Luckiest man of the week. Round up a posse. Corona-red ink: the new black.
And the winner is...
The winner of Wry & Dry's Luckiest Man Person of the Week goes to Emperor Xi Jinping, of 174 Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing, Peoples' Republic of China.
The runner up was Joe's Smashed Window Replacement Inc, of C/o Mobile Office, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California, USA. Third place-getter was Fair Ballots R Us, The Kremlin, 103132 Moscow Russia.
The winner: just as Emperor Xi was being globally excoriated for putting his boots on the face of Hong Kong, a blend of unfortunate events in the Yoo-Ess-Ay diverted world attention away.
A maniacal policeman is filmed torturing then murdering an unarmed citizen of the Yoo-Ess-Ay; people get enraged and protest; many dormant revolutionaries are awakened and start looting; and the President of the Yoo-Ess-Ay (a) provides a running, blaming, truculent Twitter commentary and (b) insults millions by walking to a nearby church with Bible in hand. Tens of thousands are arrested across the country, curfews are instituted in major cities, and the National Guard is brought to the streets to control events.
Last night, Emperor Xi sat down with his cadres and toasted the freedom loving, peaceful Americans.
Round up a posse
Which leader of a country said: "“When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
a) Richard M Nixon (USA), the day before four unarmed student demonstrators were killed at Kent State University, in May, 1970;
b) Nikita Khrushchev (USSR), when Soviet tanks rolled in Hungary to suppress an uprising; 229 protesters were executed, in October 1956;
c) Deng Xiaoping (China), when students protested in Tiananmen Square; with 478 dead (government figure) in June 1989; or
d) Donald Trump (USA), when demonstrators protested at the torture and murder of an unarmed citizen, in May 2020.
Close. But no cigar. The correct answer is d).
Round-Up-A-Posse-Trump tweeted his message on 29 May, 2020 . This was the greatest "yee ha" moment involving a US president, since President Lyndon Johnson was in a motorcade in Sydney in 1966, and the road was blocked with demonstrators. The then Premier of New South Wales, Robert Askin , told the driver to, "Drive over the bastards." LBJ liked the idea. But the local constabulary were equal to the task, and cleared the road. LBJ and Askin were unfulfilled.
 Robert Askin, a long-serving Premier, did many things to advance NSW. And also his own net worth. After his death, the ATO audited his estate and determined that a substantial part of it came from "undisclosed income derived from sources other than share investing or gambling."
 Round-Up-A-Posse-Trump might have heeded the words of his hero, John Wayne: “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.” But he didn't. And won't.
Corona-red ink: the new black
Predictably, Australia's GDP fell slightly in the March quarter. The 0.3% fall was the lowest GDP change since 2011. Statisticians will be disappointed, as it means that Australia's world beating run of 29 years without a recession will be broken (assuming a negative June quarter).
Readers will know that the data is obscured by the bush fires (negative), CV-19 (negative) and toilet paper purchases (positive). International comparisons are also somewhat misleading, as different countries felt the sting of CV-19 at different times. Nonetheless, Australia still seems a good place to be.
Hats off to Josh.
Readers may or may not be surprised. Amazon, that retail distribution behemoth, has raised $10 billion at the lowest ever rate for an American company: 0.4% for three years. The previous record was 0.45% by Apple, IBM and Walt Disney.
So what? Well, two matters. Firstly, it shows how desperate investors are for high quality debt - the low interest rate means that anything greater than the government bond rate is a good thing. And the rate was just 0.2% p.a. greater than the rate at which Uncle Sam borrowed late in May. Ridiculous.
Secondly, Amazon's debt was rate 'junk' as recently as 2009. This shows the amazing ability of both (a) a visionary and determined businessperson; who has at his disposal (b) a capital markets regime that is prepared to finance risk takers.
Sure, for every success their are 100 failures. But ponder not only Jeff Bezos (Amazon), but also Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Elon Musk (Tesla), Larry Page (Google) etc and how the combination of the person and markets has provided amazing innovation and products.
Borisconi's bonk ban
Wry & Dry got Chairman Dan all wrong. His ban on people going to work if they have been WFH is a mere nuisance compared to what Borisconi has done.
Borisconi has banned sex between people who don't live together.
This is serious. The serious bit is how will this new regulation be policed? Unlike Chairman Dan's keep-working-from-home edict, which is easily policed by unhappy employees dobbing in their bosses, a bonking ban in the UK will require house-to-house searches by suitably qualified police. Readers can imagine the dreaded knock on the door at 3am, with a cry of, "Open up, in the name of the Queen. It's the bonking-ban police!" And then the scurrying as the offending non-resident(s) clamber out of the back window as the resident offender slowly moves to unlock the door and let the curious coppers in.
Unclear on the concept
Readers in the inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne will be aware of a notorious traffic choke point: where Toorak Road crosses the Glen Waverley railway line, also at the junction with the Monash Freeway.
Well, a few weeks ago, the level crossing was removed at a cost of some $150m. A fancy overpass now carries trains metres in the air above the road traffic. Another example of Chairman Dan's infrastructure revolution.
However, in place of the railway crossing, a pedestrian crossing has been established. So now peak hour traffic, whilst not having to be interrupted by peak hour trains carrying over 600 passengers, can now readily be interrupted by a single pedestrian walking a dog.
A place in history
Readers will know that Tsar Vlad's term expires in 2024. And in keeping with the key message in Autocracy 101 (your tenure ends when you do), Tsar Vlad now wishes his term to last until 2036. They-the-people-of-Russia will vote on 1st July.
If passed, it will mean 36 successive years of power for Tsar Vlad, comfortably passing the record held by Joseph Stalin (31 years). But still a long way behind Tsar Alexander I (63 years), Tsar Nicholas I (59) and Peter the Great ((53).
Wry & Dry wouldn't put it past Tsar Vlad to extend his reign past 2064.
Then Wry & Dry got grumpy
Readers will know that Wry & Dry has the milk of human kindness by the quart in every vein. And that it is rare for him to get grumpy. But grumpy he got this morning when he read that a White House press secretary compared Blazing-Saddles-Trump's "resilience and determination" during the George Floyd protests to Winston Churchill inspecting bomb damage during the London Blitz in the Second World War.
Both Wry & Dry's grandmothers lost their homes during the Blitz. His mother lived through it. Wry & Dry has heard the stories and read the history. His mother's and grandmothers' spirit and resilience was enhanced by the country-uniting and inspirational leadership of Churchill and the humanity of King George VI and his queen.
Allow Wry & Dry to remind that callow, shallow, ignorant and bimbonic press secretary that the riots that America has seen in the last few days are zippo compared to the Blitz. And that Blazing-Saddles-Trump, just as callow, shallow, ignorant and bimbonic as his press secretary, is dwarfed by Churchill in every possible way.
Many times is his life Churchill put himself in harm's way. The last time Blazing-Saddles-Trump got close to putting himself in harm's way was when he was almost drafted in 1968 - but he dodged the draft five times. He has a wishbone instead of a backbone.
He would say that, wouldn't he
Peter Yong, the Asia-Pacific boss of HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) signed a petition supporting Beijing's new security for Hong Kong.
We know who you are
Looters who this week made off with iPhones from Apple retail locations in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington and Philadelphia quickly learned that the phones were loaded with special security software.
An on-screen messages displayed: "This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted."
Nice idea, but Wry & Dry suspects that 'local authorities' may already have their hands full.
Readers have been asking for some time about the reliance by Australian universities on overseas students. Well, Wry & Dry has the data, courtesy of Ian Marshman and Frank Larkins of University of Melbourne.
The overall average is 26%, but some universities are more equal than others:
Wry & Dry makes no assessment as to how each university might perform in the face of pandemic-led declining overseas enrollments. Except to be Captain Obvious and state that this year will be a fiscal disaster. However, Wry & Dry reflects that the thirst for an Australian education will remain for many overseas students. It's a question of when they return.
Snippets from all over
French luxury goods group LVMH’s $16.2 billion takeover of Tiffany & Co is looking less certain. It's the latest big merger said to be on the rocks amid a deteriorating situation in the U.S. market brought on by a Covid-19 pandemic and severe social unrest.
Wry & Dry comments: Wry & Dry was looking forward to LVMHT (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Tiffany) in the pantheon of acronyms.
2. Zoom. Zoom.
A surge in video conferencing usage saw revenue growth at Zoom jump 169% to $328.2m.
Wry & Dry comments: Month-to-month subscriptions increased to 30% from 20% of revenue, which may lead to higher churn.
3. Car sales plunge
Australian new vehicles sales fell 35.3% in May from April, to just over 58,000.
Wry & Dry comments: This is not just a CV-19 thing. May was the 26th successive month that new car sales were at a lower level that the corresponding month the previous year.
4. No change
The Chief Teller of the RBA decided to sit on his hands and has left interest rates unchanged.
Wry & Dry comments: Readers might remember that the 'cash rate' is 0.25%. Or might not.
5. UK dry
The UK had its driest May in 124 years and sunniest spring on record.
Wry & Dry comments: Even less of a reason for the weekly bath.
And, to soothe your troubled mind ...
Last words ...
“Most of us think that ‘one country, two systems’ is dead. Young people can’t see a future in Hong Kong.”
- Winnie Yu, 32-year old nurse and labour activist, speaking to a journalist about Beijing's new security law for Hong Kong.
Wry & Dry hopes that is pseudonym.
A lightly salted absurdity ...
Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ...
...grinned boyishly as Wry & Dry hopped into a surprisingly gleaming jalopy.
“I’ve just had it detailed,” said Deepak.
“Nice,” said Wry & Dry, relieved he was not going to have to again pick the remnants of teething rusks off his Chester Barry suit.
“I’m selling it,” continued Deepak.
“Oh no, not the jalopy. We’ve shared some great moments,” Wry & Dry said, giving the worn leather seat an affectionate pat.
“Well yes, but preparations need to be made” Deepak said with an air of mystery.
“Yes, for the big celebration.”
“And…” encouraged Wry & Dry.
“Anjali, my darling wife, is getting legitimatised!”
“Is there such a thing?” asked Wry & Dry.
“Well technically no, but the Hiatus has asked mother-in-law Damshi to marry her. So, it will be sort of, as the Brits say, proper-like.”
“While it is admirable that Damshi’s lover is looking to amend for past wrong-doings, but is it really necessary in this day and age to, err, go to such lengths? I mean there are many successful and well-respected people that were conceived between the sheets of... oh, never mind.”
“He’s Catholic, and apparently he wanted things to be just so for Anjali and the grand-children.”
“The real question is, did he get down on one knee?” asked Wry & Dry rubbing his titanium patellas thoughtfully.
“Sure, it was on Zoom but he got down 'pon bended knee, made some soppy speech, can’t wait to be together at last, man and wife, wink, wink, nod, nod, and job’s done.”
“Did she cry?” asked Wry & Dry.
“Of course, my mother-in-law cried, Crocodile tears naturally. It’s her fourth time round - she knows what to do.”
“That’s harsh, don’t you think its true lurv this time?” Wry & Dry chuckled.
“Mr. Wry & Dry, it’s all about Posh and Becks. The Hiatus is a rather well-preserved specimen and we know what Damshi’s like…”
“She’s a minx for sure, but what is this Posh and Becks? Is it a brand?” said Wry & Dry totally confused.
“Oh Mr. Wry & Dry, you’re an Englishmen, rhyming slang… my dear Watson!” Deepak cried as Wry & Dry clambered out.
Wry & Dry grinned as light dawned. Although none the wiser about the identities of these curious entities Posh or Becks, there was one thing for sure, Damshi, once again had come up trumps.
- from the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry.