Wry & Dry

Claytons gunboat. Events, dear boy. Events. Barbie Dan.

Claytons gunboat

Readers will be aware that Emperor Xi Jinping has pushed his jackboot further into the faces of the people of Hong Kong.  China's imposition of its national security laws on the former British colony appears to be a bridge too far [1] for the Brits.

The UK government roared last night.  Well, sort of.  And announced that unless China backed down, it would open a path to UK citizenship for more than 300,000 Hong Kong residents.

It's not quite sending in a gunboat to lob shells onto Emperor Xi's front lawn.  But at least someone in Borisconi's government has shown some testicular fortitude.

Wry & Dry predicts that Emperor Xi's mind will be unchanged and the number of Cantonese restaurants in Britain will massively increase. 

[1]  A bridge too far: the epithet used to describe General Montgomery's innovative but ultimately doomed plan to capture a series of strategically important bridges by paratroopers during the Second World War.  The plan was to have a co-incident armoured assault to reinforce the paratroopers.   It was British Lieutenant General Browning who advised Montgomery that "I think we might be going a bridge too far."  Montgomery didn't listen. Not for the first time.  A couple of SS Panzer divisions wrecked Montgomery's plans.

What, worry about Queensland's borders?

Wry & Dry is concerned that people just don't understand the issue.  The issue is the shutting of Queensland's borders.  

Cartoon Qld the big raw prawn

The reality is that The Rest Of Australia wants Queensland's borders to remain closed.  To keep Queenslanders in.  And it's not just the cane toad.  Readers should consider the risk of Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton, George Christensen, Bob Katter or Clive Palmer coming south.

Be alert!    

And the dummy landed on the moon

Virus-What-Virus-Trump is most discombobulated.  Readers will recall V-W-V-Trump innovatingly uses Twitter to avoid having his messages massaged by traditional media.  Well, it now seems that Twitter has slapped fact-check links on two of his Tweets.

Cartoon trump twitter

Oblivious to the irony,  V-W-V-Trump sent out a Tweet stating: “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election.  If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!” 

Wry & Dry will not be staying tuned.  And will be going, for example, to the dentist instead.

It's not about Chairman Dan

As much as Wry & Dry likes to pour boiling oil from a great height on Chairman Dan about, inter alia, his love affair with all things Chinese, it must be said, Chairman Dan is not the main game.

Cartoon Andrews profiles in courage

Yes, yes.  In a world where perfection is hard to find, Readers can look no further for the perfection of a fool than Chairman Dan (and his sidekick, Tim-remove-a-level-crossing-and-they-will-come-Pallas).  But the reality is much, much bigger.  And it's all about Emperor Xi Jinping and a lad called Bismarck [1].

Walk with Wry & Dry on this.   Emperor Xi has massive domestic problems: the economy is in a mess and the pandemic has created internal turmoil.  What better way to manage the problem than to take a leaf from the book of a master at this sort of stuff.  Otto von Bismarck got the gig.    

Never-Waste-A-Crisis-Bismarck, the mastermind behind the unification of Germany, successfully turned attention away from domestic issues by provoking short wars with neighbours (Denmark, Austria and France).  In the same way, Emperor Xi is now diverting heads from unhappy domestic issues to, well, other matters.

Readers will recall that last week Wry & Dry was the first quality journal to report on the increasing tension on the Sino-Indian border (even the august Economist magazine took up the story, yesterday).  This is getting messy. 

Cartoon india china

Add the sabre rattling about Taiwan, the boot increasingly on Hong Kong's face and the increasing military build up on those atolls in the South China Sea.

Otto would have approved of it all.

Y'see, in the big scheme of things Chairman Dan is small beer.   

[1]   Bismarck was a conservative German statesman who, after unifying Germany in 1871, served as its first chancellor until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades.

Quarantine Barbie

Readers will be aware that Barbie is the state-of-the-art doll, regularly reincarnated to reflect the latest fashion trends and social mores.  Wry & Dry is delighted that the CV-19 Quarantine Barbie has emerged.

Four dolls have emerged: the Quarantine Starter Pack, the Quarantine Home Salon Edition, Zoom Ken and Binge-Watching Barbie.

Image Barbie

Cartoon Barbie

Wry & Dry is keenly waiting for the Chairman Dan Doll Set: Belt & Road Dan; Hi-Vis-Vest Dan; Chairman Dan Quarantine Starter Pack; and Chairman Dan & Emperor Xi on Holidays. 

Cartoon andrews belt hanging

What the Chinese think 'Belt' in 'Belt & Road' means

The ideal gift for religious festivals, birthdays, etc.

Events, dear boy.  Events.  

Readers will recall that it was former UK PM Harold McMillan who, when asked by a journalist what was the most difficult thing about his job, replied, "Events, dear boy.  Events."  And it was events that caused McMillan to get the DCM. Well, actually, one big event, the infamous Profumo scandal. 

Which brings Wry & Dry to consider Borisconi and current events.  Well, actually, one big event.  Last year, he was walking on water.  He'd creamed Jezza Corbyn in the election and put the EU on the back foot over Brexit negotiations.  

And then an event happened. Dominic Cummings, Borisconi's svengali, decided to break the UK CV-19 travel restrictions.  The details don't matter.  But the Court Of Public Opinion has made it clear that Cummings must get the DCM.  Err, small problem. Readers will know that Cummings is the brains behind Borisconi, and Cummings is very, very smart.  Very uncompromising.  Very inscrutable.  And very, well, svengali.  And Borisconi relies on him absolutely.    

It's too late now for Borisconi to heed Macbeth's words, "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly."  Which in English means, "don't faff around, do it now!" He didn't, and now even people outside of the BBC are baying for blood.

Welcome, Borisconi, to Politics 102: When Between a Rock and A Hard Place...    

A Thoughtful Article

Readers know that Wry & Dry is comfortable wading only in the shallow end of the thinking pool.  But he was taken by an article in last week's Financial Review by Christopher Joye.  Readers may wish to visit this website for the full enchilada.

At the risk of still writing about China, it's all about China.  He gives a fascinating precis of the psyche of the Chinese Communist Party and of the Emperor Xi Jinping.  And concludes with a statement that the Emperor has three choices.  At the risk of taking up valuable Wry & Dry real estate, these are (in precis):

The first is dropping the bully boy program and once again hiding and biding, pretending to play by the rules of the capitalist system...This is a plausible possibility in the near-term, although perhaps unlikely under a hardline and ideological president like Xi.

A second option is to discard the socialist ideal altogether, accept China’s current business model is flawed, and embrace the reality that the best operating system available to it is probably the Singaporean approach of soft authoritarianism coupled with limited democracy that preserves a one-party political state.

A final path is the belligerent Leninist conclusion that these struggles solidify the CCP’s internal control and constituency... Strategic overreach, which has been the defining characteristic of Xi’s term, remains the order of the day.

Ignoring the lessons of history and the CCP’s mistakes since 2012... will almost certainly result in the regression of China back to yet another middling, authoritarian power in the mould of Russia, albeit without the latter's natural resource advantages.

And the winner is...

Wry & Dry posed a question of Readers last week: why do Australia and South Korea have the lowest death rates from CV-19?  Replies started pouring in within days.  And they fell into two clear categories: the medical and the wry.

Medical responses tended to focus on why Australia was successful, ignoring South Korea's success.  Wry & Dry thanks those medical Readers for their sometimes deep analysis. Close, but no cigar.

The best of the Wry responses were (omitting some gruesome comments about bats):

1.  South Korea is next to the Socialist Republic of Chairman Kim.  Australia is next to the Socialist Republic of Chairman Jacinda.
2.  The North Koreans are planning to invade South Korea and the Chinese are planning to invade Australia and neither want their military to be infected with COVID 19 when they get here.  So they made sure we did not have any of the 5 Million Wuhan residents that left in December and January bring it to our shores. They went instead to Europe and America. 
3.  South Korea has a closed border to its north.  New South Wales has closed the border to its north.  (Yes, yes.  Wry & Dry knows that NSW is not Australia, but they don't know that).

And the winner is #2.  Suitably and refreshingly Wry.  Gloating rights go to the young lady architect, who wishes to remain anonymous. A small bottle of something will be transferred.  

Unclear on the concept

Readers will recall Wry & Dry's article of some time ago about the increasing problems that US investors are having with the accounting and auditing of some Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges.  Readers were also referred to the 2017 movie The China Hustle (click here for the trailer)

The essential problem is that the Chinese auditing standards are, well, different from those used in the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  Or indeed, to anywhere in a modern democracy.

Well, at last, someone in the Yoo-Ess-Ay is going to do something about it.  Congress, in fact.  The legislation (yet to be passed) is that all companies listed on US exchanges must comply with US regulatory audits.

Not surprisingly, the lads in China are now most aggrieved.  Indeed, hurt and upset.  Last Sunday, China’s securities regulator issued an unusually stern response, saying the proposal “was directly targeted at China”, and “politicises securities regulation”.   The bill would “weaken the confidence of global investors in US capital markets, and their global position.”

Yes, the bill is targeted at Chinese companies.  No, it doesn't politicise securities' regulation.  No, it will strengthen the confidence of global investors in US capital markets.

Sigh. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  American jobless claims fall

'Continuing claims', which tally Americans’ ongoing unemployment benefit claims in state programs, fell to 21.1 million for the week ended May 16, US Labor Department figures showed yesterday.

Wry & Dry comments:  Thus suggesting that the job market is starting to rebound as businesses reopen.

2.  Business investment down, but better than expected

Australian business investment fell 1.6% in the March quarter, better than the expected 2.6% fall.

Wry & Dry comments:  And for the rest of the year?  Too early to tell.

3.  American Airlines shrinks

American Airlines, the world's largest airline by fleet size, passengers carried and revenue per passenger mile, said it would need to reduce its 17,000 management and support staff by 30%. 

Wry & Dry comments:  In a now common duh moment, the airline said, "We must plan for operating a smaller airline for the foreseeable future." 

4.  Energy

The coronavirus crisis has been "staggering in both its scale and swiftness," warned the International Energy Agency in its annual World Energy Investment report, stating global energy investment will tumble by 20% - or by $400 billion - compared to last year. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Another forecast that will turn out to be incorrect.

5.  World's largest car rental firm crashes

Hertz, the world's largest car rental company, filed for bankruptcy protection last weekend. 

Wry & Dry comments:  This is going to make a royal mess of used-vehicle wholesale prices, as creditors may take possession of their collateral and dump hundreds of thousands of vehicles on the wholesale market.

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Miscellany 

Last words ...

Unfortunately because of Covid-19 which has caused an extremely rapid and substantial decrease in travel, Hertz has encountered major financial difficulties,” 

 -  Carl Icahn, billionaire investor, after selling his 39% stake in Hertz for a "significant loss".

Captain Obvious.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...sent a text to Wry & Dry, saying he was "unavailable and managing domestic matters."

  - from the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry. 

 

Cheers

Anthony