Putin for life. Leadership awards. AAA.
Elections 1: Sleepy Joe's lead widens
Virus-What-Virus-Trump has a problem. He hasn't booked the removalist.
The latest polling in the Yoo-Ess-Ay has Sleepy Joe comfortably ahead:
This is the worst polling result for V-W-V-Trump. In 2016, he won the election with 46% of the popular vote.
Elections 2: Putin for Life
Some Russians would want to say Life for Putin. But it looks as though they've got Putin for life.
Voting began yesterday in Roosha for constitutional changes that, amongst other things, will keep Tsar Vlad in power until 2036, when he will be 83 years old. Which isn't too bad: if V-W-V-trump wins a second term as president of the Yoo-Ess-Ay he will be 84 years old in his final year in office.
Or if Sleepy Joe wins, he will be 82 in his final year in office.
Makes the Soviet gerontocracy of the 1980s look positively sprightly.
Wry & Dry's FY-20 Leadership Awards
As FY-20 draws to a merciful close, Wry & Dry has been pondering matters other than economics, finance and investments. And has decided to finish the fiscal year on 'Leadership'. And so announces the FY-20 Wry & Dry Leadership Awards. The awards will be presented in a series of private ceremonies.
Category: Best Leader
Gold medal: Virus-What-Virus Trump
V-W-V-Trump was kicking goals from all angles: tax cuts, apparent diplomatic success, being hairy-chested toward China, etc. Until CV-19 finally led folk to realise that here was a leader of extraordinary ability. His ability to beat a virus by yelling at it broke new ground in medical science.
There could be a Nobel Prize in this. This is Hall of Fame stuff. Maybe even Legend status.
Silver medal: Chairman Dan
He was the most popular socialist leader on the planet, built on the rivers of dosh from property stamp duty that did the general coffers fill. This dosh paid for the level-crossing-removal-mania, which got so popular that Chairman Dan ordered that level crossings be built so that they could be removed. This is amazing leadership. Chairman Dan might still be Premier long after Tsar Vlad and Emperor Xi have statues raised to their glory.
Bronze medal: UK PM Borisconi
He was surfing high on the Brexit (remember that?) wave, when the next wave had CV-19 written all over it. Boris responded by spreading his authenticity like he has his DNA. And declared that the best way to defeat the virus was by heroically contracting the virus himself and then by keeping pubs open. So very British. Keep calm. And carry on.
FY-20 Analysis not meaningful
Maybe it was the coronavirus. So far, with three trading days left, the market is down about 10% for the fiscal year.
But FY-20 was not only down the most since the dark days of the GFC, but it was an amazingly volatile year for the ASX. On almost one third of trading days the market fell or rose by more than 1%.
This makes performance analysis not meaningful. Readers can imagine the underlying stock volatility that causes such index volatility.
The outcome of this is that a year's analysis can be distorted by volatility at year end, which can drag down or push up stocks by a lot. Such is the arbitrariness of the accounting period. Sure, measurement is important. But beware of exaggerated claims made on the basis of a short-time period.
There were high fives all round Canberra this week as rating agency Moody's confirmed Australia's AAA credit rating. This is the highest credit rating. The only countries rated AAA by the three major rating agencies (Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch) are: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland.
Hats off to Josh and his treasurer forebears.
Bank error in your favour. Collect $100.
The US Treasury sent $1.4 billion worth of stimulus cheques to more than one million dead people, the Government Accountability Office said.
Nice work. If you can get it.
Qantas - the canary in the coalmine?
Readers will have seen that Qantas head flight attendant Alan Joyce has decided to slash 6,000 of Qantas' headcount, i.e. about 20% of its workforce. This is gutsy stuff.
Readers will also know that Mr Joyce is not one of Wry & Dry's favourite people - virtue signalling should best be done in private. But he dips his lid to Joyce for gutsy management decisions. Joyce saved the airline in 2011 when he shut it down to end an industrial dispute. And now he has seen the economic writing on the wall that others may not see.
Wry & Dry now ponders if other CEOs will follow his lead and batten down the hatches.
Unclear on the concept
ASIC, the corporate Labrador with new teeth, just doesn't understand Self Managed Superannuation Funds. Wry & Dry does.
Work with Wry & Dry on this.
Somewhere deep in the bowels of ASIC lies a hatred of SMSFs. This hatred is shared by the ATO. Each, in a very Yes Minister manner, acts with all apparent objectivity and fairness. But, once again, the public pronouncements give lie to this objectivity.
That indefatigable MP Tim Wilson has drawn Wry & Dry's attention to the ASIC Fact Sheet: Self-Managed super funds: Are they for you?
This document is farcical. And should be the subject of a blended 60 Minutes & The Age investigative report.
Wry & Dry would be grateful to hear from any Reader who has a SMSF who spends 100 hours and/or $13,900 per year running it.
Readers may have heard of the German fintech group: Wirecard. It's essentially an electronic payment processor with a successful mobile payment-app that works separately of banks or network operators.
Well, something is happening: its share price fell more than 80% last week and its bonds were trading at 13 cents in the euro. So someone looked under the bonnet. And found... nothing. It's not a case of Covid-19, but rather "Frankfurt, we've got a problem." A multi-year accounting fraud has been confirmed with its awesome quote that "€1.9 billion of cash on our balance sheet probably does not exist”.
Its CEO gave himself the DCM last Friday. He was arrested on Monday, having had the weekend to pack his bags and get his shirts ironed. The company has filed for insolvency.
This is a big deal in Germany. In a market cap sense, before the scandal, Wirecard was almost as big as Westpac i.e. pretty big. And it is in the blue-chip DAX30 Index, alongside such German titans as BMW, Daimler, Merck, Siemens and Volkswagen. Felix Hufeld, the President of German financial watchdog BaFin, said the Wirecard scandal was “a complete disaster” and “a shame” for Germany”.
Well, scandals happen, even in Germany. Wirecard will end up in the same cemetery as Enron. Enron brought down accounting firm Arthur Andersen. What fate awaits Wirecard's bean-counters: Ernst & Young?
Melbourne v. Sydney
Last weekend's Financial Review reported the most searched for travel destinations by Australians over the past two weeks.
The top destination for people from Greater Sydney was Kuta, Bali.
The top destination for people from Greater Melbourne was Paris, France.
Snippets from all over
1. Job vacancies suffer record fall
Business restrictions in response to COVID-19 caused the number of job vacancies to plunge 43% over the May 2020 quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Wry & Dry comments: Surprising nobody.
2. WFH winner
Fastly has surpassed Zoom to become the best stock performer among tech companies since the coronavirus pandemic began roiling the economy. Shares surged 15% on Monday to record a 60% over the past seven trading days, and are up 222% since the market's peak on Feb. 19. Zoom is up 159% over that stretch.
Wry & Dry comments: Percentage gains from a low base look amazing. But, well, ya gotta make hay...
3. US homes sales slide
U.S. sales of previously owned homes dropped in May by more than forecast to the lowest level since October 2010 as the coronavirus pandemic sent demand skidding along with the rest of the economy.
Wry & Dry comments: Home sales were down 26.6% on a year ago. But weirdly, the median house price increased 2.3% to $284,600.
4. Tokyo calling
Japan is considering visa waivers, tax advice and free office space for asset managers, traders and bankers from Hong Kong in a campaign to cast Tokyo as the best exit strategy should a crisis force them out of the semi-autonomous territory.
Wry & Dry comments: Tokyo would make an interesting alternative to Singapore for those businesses fleeing Hong Kong. Wry & Dry has lived in each city: each works, is safe and is state-of-the-art. Tokyo has amazing restaurants and has seasons. But in Singapore the language is English and Mandarin.
5. UK debt hits 100% of GDP
UK public debt hit a record high and passed 100% of GDP for the first time since 1963.
Wry & Dry comments: And it will get worse. Much worse.
And, to soothe your troubled mind ...
Last words ...
“You get an invitation to a party from the Fed, Treasury and Congress. They offer to pick you up, take you home and bring you breakfast in bed the next morning. You know it is going to be a party like no other."
- Bill Zox, a high-yield bond portfolio manager at Diamond Hill Capital Management, speaking on the massive $46.7 billion of corporate bonds sold so far in June, a new record. The US Fed had announced plans to purchases some types of high-yield corporate bonds.
This will end in tears. But not this year.
A lightly salted absurdity ...
Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ...
... again didn't turn up. Wry & Dry is worried.