Wry & Dry

G-20: the insult-fest. Turkish egg-on-face. Smart people go to

G-20: the insult-fest

Readers will be aware that the G-20 is meeting today and tomorrow in Osaka.  Many might think that the G-20 is the world's 20 largest countries.  Err, no.  It's the top 19, plus an extra seat for the EU.  Plus a host of hangers-on, oops, sorry, 'invited guests' from eight other nations, including Singapore, Vietnam, Egypt and Spain.  Plus more hangers-on: from international agencies such as the ADB, IMF, ILO, OECD and other alphabetically powerful organisations.

The aim of the G-20 Summit is to see how many insults I-Wanna-Insult-Friends-and-Foes-Alike-Trump can throw at his allies in a 48-hour period.  Especially his hosts, of whom he said, "Japan would sit back if America were attacked and watch on a Sony television."

But Readers will know that I-Wanna-Insult-Friends-and-Foes-Alike-Trump is selective about the direction of his insults.  Two notable insultee omissions in the run-up to this talk-fest have been Tsar Vlad (Russia) and Sheik MBS (Mohammed bin Salman - Saudi Arabia).

I-Wanna-Insult-Friends-and-Foes-Alike-Trump has had a man-crush on Tsar Vlad for years.  Perhaps because Tsar Vlad knows where the bodies are buried, if you follow W&D.

And Sheik MBS is the largest customer of the US defence industry.  No point in insulting your best customer.  But that's not the main issue: The Yoo-Ess-Ay needs Saudia Arabia on board for whatever action is taken against Iran.  Iran and Saudi Arabia detest each other with a loathing of truly epic proportions.

W&D will next week provide a G-20 Insult Scorecard.

Turkish egg-on-face 

Readers will remember a few months back that Turkey's nationwide local elections were held.  And that Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan spat the dummy because his party lost the election in Istanbul - the very city where he made his initial foray into politics.

That loss was by 13,000 votes.  But under the Sultan's recount rules, 13,000 votes is as good as a tie.  And so he arranged for a recount.  Which produced roughly the same result, that is 13,000 votes is close to a tie.  So he ordered a fresh election.

W&D told him directly to be careful of what he wished for.

Cartoon sultan three wishes

The Sultan foolishly ignored W&D.  On Sunday's fresh election, the main opposition candidate won, with a lead of over 775,000 votes. 

Is this the end of the beginning?  Well, one swallow doesn't make a summer.  But it's hard to soar with eagles when you're a turkey ... or, something like that.

Texas comes to the UK 

Readers will be aware of that most delightful Texan saw: "Big hat.  No cattle."

This, of course, refers to a person boasting of his/her assets or ability.  The pejorative is doubly so, it refers not only to boastfulness of the person, but also to he/she not having the cattle in any case.

W&D now considers that Texas has come to the UK.  Wannabee UK PM, Borisconi boasted on Wednesday that, if he were PM, the UK would leave the EU on 31st October "with or without a deal."  And then we went further, saying he would scrap Ms May's withdrawal agreement and seek a completely new deal.

Cartoon boris and eu

This is podium-finish Big-hat-no-cattle stuff.  Mrs May's Brexit deal runs to 585 pages [1].  

Where will Borisconi start?  Perhaps at the very beginning.  It's a very good place to start.  When you read, you begin with ... oops, sorry.  W&D got carried away. 

[1] Readers who are interested in peeling back the onion of the deal will find it here 

Smart people go to ...

... Australia.  Well, that's according to the OECD. 

Chart smart people

As with all of these arcane country rankings, it all comes down to the criteria and the weight of each.  The OECD equally weights seven variables: (1) quality of opportunities, (2) income and tax, (3) future prospects, (4) family environment, (5) skills environment, (6) inclusiveness, and (7) quality of life.  

Cartoon eductaed migrants

W&D notes that the survey is of just OECD countries.  Which is probably about where the discussion can end: W&D is not sure too many highly educated folk will emigrate to ... Oh, never mind.  As soon as W&D inserts a country, then the politically correct emails start coming in.  Each enthusing about the need for 'inclusiveness'.  Sigh.    

Now it's getting personal

I-Wanna-Bomb-Iran Trump just doesn't like Iran's leaders.  Iran's President Rouhani said: The new US sanctions are “outrageous and idiotic” and that the White House was “mentally handicapped.”

I-Wanna-Bomb-Iran Trump wasn't taking any of this lying down.  And witheringly and wittily responded that Mr Rouhani's attack was "very ignorant and insulting."   

Err, what's that about the kettle and pot?

But W&D must move on from the sandpit and bring Readers up to date on the real issue.

Readers will be aware that I-Wanna-Bomb-Iran Trump ordered new sanctions against the assets of Iran's 'Supreme Leader', Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and several Iranian military commanders, as well as plans to target Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later this week.  The penalties effectively freeze the business operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.

The IRGC is a sort of private army cum investment company.  It (a) controls a global network of private companies, that some experts estimate is worth over $100 billion; and (b) finances many terrorist organisations, including Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and the Taliban.    

This is why I-Wanna-Bomb-Iran Trump is getting personal. [2] 

Cartoon trump and ayatolah

[2]  There is much more to the IRGC than meets the eye.  Whereas the Islamic Republic of Iran Army defends Iran's borders and maintains internal order, the IRGC is intended to protect the country's Islamic republic system.  It does so with its own army, navy and air-force, with total personnel in excess of 120,000.  The IRGC's power is increasing rapidly, and is part of a subtle transformation of Iran from a theocracy to a militocracy.     

Ironic source of boost to free-trade

Readers would be pleased to see that the views of we-the-taxpayer about free trade is increasingly becoming more sensible.  During the week, the respected Lowy Institute released the results of its annual survey.  Part of the survey asked: "Overall, do you think free trade is good or bad for ... your own standard of living"

Chart free trade is...

So, what is the source of this increasingly favourable view about free trade?  Is it the increasing maturity of Australians?  Or perhaps the increasing globalisation of Australia's world?  Or perhaps an increasing awareness that Australia's prosperity is very much dependent upon the free trading of our exports, especially iron ore and coal?

Cartoon china free trade

W&D posits that it is none of these.  Rather it's because of I-Wanna-Smash-China-Trump's trade war with China.  Either:

  a.  with all the publicity, people now see the importance of free trade to the economy and therefore to their own standard of living; or

  b.  people detest Trump so much that anything that he does must be bad - hence increasing tariffs (restricting free trade) is a bad thing.  Ergo free trade is a good thing.  

Gender wars - something's gotta give

Readers will know that the so-called gender-pay-gap is mostly attributable (in modern Western democracies) to non-discriminatory factors, such as women's greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression; and women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages (e.g. nursing and teaching) and male dominated attracting higher wages (e.g. mining and building & construction). [3]

The attention of W&D's rheumy eyes have been drawn to the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  There an employment example exists where all of the non-discriminatory factors have been eliminated and the residual is a most glaring case of employment gender discrimination.   

The industry is elite football (i.e. soccer).  In this industry, as between the sexes, (a) the job is the same; (b) the skills required the same; and (c) there is little time out of the workforce for gender-determinant factors (e.g. child-birth and rearing).  

An analysis [4] shows that for 20 international games in a year, America's elite men footballers would earn US$263,320 p.a.  And the women US$99,000.

Ah, the men say: We are earn more because we attract more spectators and sponsorship.  Err, no.  From 2016 to 2018, the men's football income was $49.9m, the women's $50.8m.

And Readers will know that the American women's team is the most successful in the game's history, having won the World Cup three times (and is favourite to win the one currently being played) and four Olympic gold medals.

The best the men's team has done was coming third in the 1930 World Cup.

W&D leaves it to Readers to draw their own conclusions.

[3] Don't push the send button on that email, possibly aggrieved Readers.  W&D doesn't suggest that discrimination doesn't exist, even in Australia (where the raw gender-pay-gap is 14.1%, source: Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency).  Interested Readers should visit this website, which exemplifies W&D's view.
[4] Source: The Economist.

Speaking of...

...of sports.  Work with W&D on this.

Readers will be aware that England (the country) is currently hosting the World Cup of Cricket.  And that England (the cricket team), the pre-tournament favourite, is having a shocking time and may miss the finals.

Readers will also be aware that the World Cup of Women's Football (i.e. soccer) is currently being held (in France).  And the English team just flogged Norway to make the semi-finals.  England are now favoured to meet the Yoo-Ess-Ay in the final.

Question:  to what sport is the UK media now turning its attention? 

Answer:  Women's soccer!  The team is now splashed across the headlines.  Especially as someone called Beckham was at the Norway game and much photo-ed.  England's cricket team is now media-friendless.

Trade wars - something's gotta give 

Further proof of the negative effect that tariffs and trade wars have is shown by a chart in yesterday's email from The Economist.

Company executives, when speaking on 'corporate-earnings calls' (i.e. podcasts to investors and stock-brokers of profit results by a company), increasingly mention the words 'trade', 'trade war' and 'tariffs'.

Chart tariff in earnings calls

PS: W&D wants to meet the person who listened to the thousands of calls and counted the various keywords.

Something's gotta give. 

Bernie goes all in 

The poll numbers for Bernie Sanders, the wannabee Democrat US presidential challenger, ageing hippie and last time loser are clearly in need of a typical socialist solution: Make the Rich Pay!

He has unveiled plans to cancel all of the US$1.6 trillion of student loan debt in the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  The giveaway would be funded by 'taxes on Wall Street transactions.' 

So, thinking about this ... the funds that would flow from 'Wall Street transactions' (whatever that means, but it is meant to sound like a tax on the wealthy) to, mostly, graduates on high incomes: the wealthy.  Readers may wish to consider some facts:  The top 25% of income earners have 34% of the total of student debt, whereas the bottom 25% have just 12% [5].

Bernie's universal debt cancellation programme would be a one-time cash transfer for which a large portion of the benefits would go to those on high incomes.

But it sounds like a vote winner.

[5] Source: Urban Institute

Irony of the week

Podium finish goes to the city of San Francisco, which this week announced a ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes.  The reason: vaping can encourage young people to switch to cigarettes.  But... the sale of cigarettes remains legal.

But wait, there's more.  San Francisco is home to the market-leader in e-cigarettes Juul.  W&D expects Juul to lawyer-up. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Down at the car wash I

US regulators have uncovered a possible new flaw in Boeing's troubled 737 Max aircraft that is likely to push back test flights.  And United Airlines, a somewhat large US carrier, has said that it will not use its grounded 737 Maxs until 3rd September at the earliest.  This has led to the cancellation of 1,900 scheduled flights. 

W&D comments:  Boeing had some US$8.6 billion of cash and marketable securities in its piggy bank at the end of January.  But sooner or later ... 

2.  Down at the car wash II: Warner Brothers

Ann Sarnoff has been appointed as new CEO of Warner Bros., marking the first woman to run one of Hollywood’s most powerful studios in its 96-year history.

W&D comments:  Warner Sisters?  

3.  Down at the car wash III 

Bitcoin surges past US$13,000, boosted by ‘Facebank’.  The cryptocurrency’s value has jumped for eight trading sessions in a row.

W&D comments:  Would a Reader please tell W&D why this isn't a speculative investment?

4.  China - the slowdown continues

China’s economy continued to weaken in June, with the slowdown underscoring how important it will be for President Xi Jinping to push forward talks with President Donald Trump this week and avoid tariffs on the rest of the nation’s exports to the U.S.   

W&D comments:  Who will first blink, Emperor Xi or I-Wanna-a-Tariff-Trump?  

5.  Dieselgate destroys Daimler profit

Cutting its profit forecast for the third time in a year, Daimler (maker of Mercedes and Smart motor vehicle and the world's largest truck manufacturer) warned investors that Q2 earnings will take a "high three-digit-million" hit due to higher-than-anticipated financial fallout of alleged diesel emissions manipulation. 

W&D comments: 'High three-digit-million'?  Is that €500m or €999m? Somewhat lacking in Teutonic precision.   

Deepak, W&D's Uber driver ... 

... was back in Melbourne.  A changed man.  W&D had left the Collins St salt mine for a quick stroll in the winter sun when his solitude was shattered by a blaring of a car horn.  He turned to remonstrate with the driver.

An obviously new, black Hyundai SUV slowed to a halt.  The passenger side tinted window silently slid down.  To reveal ... a beaming Deepak.

He grinned, “Everything is going so well.  I'm back with Anjali.  And Bitcoin is up again, I'm in the money.  It's now over A$18,000.  Apart from the little glitch yesterday but it’s just a platform thing” he added cautiously. 

“Coffee?” W&D offered, deciding not to admit the only platform he trusted was Platform 4 at Flagstaff Station, from which he was conveyed home to Mrs. W&D every night.

Over his chai, Deepak leaned forward. “You must want to see Amulya's photo?” he said launching his Facebook app on his new iPhone XR.  W&D squinted with his rheumy eyes at the photo of the Deepak's evidently teething progeny. 

Deepak enthusiastically continued, “you’ve probably heard Mr. W&D, this Mr Zuckerberg, he is so kind, he is going to be helping millions of unbanked people with his new Libra currency. So now we can share more than just photos on Facebook!”

“Well, Mr Zuckerberg has a reputation for being very good at sharing.  Don’t you remember our conversation about Facebook’s new dating website?  Whilst not yet in Australia, I understand it's available in some parts of Asia.”

Deepak went white. “Do you think there might be some problems with privacy?” he asked, a hint chastised.

“Well I wouldn’t be very keen on moving my money around on what is essentially a social network with shady ethics,” W&D said carefully.  Deepak seemed relieved that the conversation had moved away from dating sites.

“Let me pay for coffee,” Deepak said fumbling unsuccessfully for his wallet. “I must have left it in the car.”

W&D patted his pocket and it jingled expectantly.

“Cash is king” W&D muttered as he strode off, leaving a pile of coins on the table.  And Deepak to consider the bigger issues of life and counting the 'likes' on his overseas Facebook Dating post.        

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

"It's quicker to elect the pope."

 -  Leo Varadkar, Ireland's taoiseach (prime minister), on the infighting going on between the EU's political leaders as to whom should be the new President of the European Commission.

Germany wants Manfred Weber, who's German and a bit to the right.  France wants Michel Barnier, who's French and a bit to the left.  Yawn.     

First Samuel client events calendar

Events for 2019

Date to be advised

First Samuel Annual Forum

Special guest

Hon Josh Frydenberg, MP, Federal Treasurer

Leonda, Hawthorn

Chief Investment Officer Dinners

Interstate Invitations sent last week

Melbourne- Invitations to be sent next week

Contact Jess at responses@firstsamuel.com.au to RSVP

Some lightly salted absurdities from all over ...

At the extreme left-hand end of the bell-curve ...

A suspected shoplifter raced out of the store and hid in the store's rubbish compactor.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, this: a store employee deposited a load of cardboard into the rubbish chute that fed into the compactor and turned on the compactor.  He heard screaming from inside, so switched off the machine and called emergency people.  Store employees had been looking for the woman, whom they suspected of having stolen items that included beer from the store. They had lost track of her.

She ended up in hospital.


W&D is waiting for her to lawyer-up.  The store did not prevent her from climbing into the compactor.

Guess what the police did next

Courtney Irby, of Lakeland, Florida went to the local police station on Friday so officers could take possession of her estranged husband's guns, which she had taken from his apartment.  The previous day he tried to run her over and threatened to shoot her.   

Q.  What did the police do: 

a.  Nothing

b.  Thank Courtney and take the guns;

c.  Thank Courtney, take the guns and arrest her husband; or

d.  Arrest Courtney.  

A.  Close.  But no cigar.  The answer is d.  She was arrested and charged with armed burglary: of his guns.


The police still do not understand why people have a problem with her arrest. 

Epic fail

Tiffany Adams fells asleep on a nearly empty late night Air Canada flight from Quebec City to Toronto.  When she awoke, the plane had arrived at its destination.  So far so good.

But she was the only one on the plane.  Which was now parked away from the terminal.  The lights were off - it was pitch black.  She was entirely alone.  Her mobile phone was dead.  She made her way to cockpit, found a torch and opened the main exit door.  But there was a 10 metre drop to the ground.

Eventually, her torchlight attracted the attention of a passing luggage cart driver. 

Air Canada is offering profuse apologies.  


If this had happened south of the border, she would be lawyered-up by now.