Wry & Dry

RCEP? Crown Cringe. Pelosi Ceiling.

I.  RCEP?

Readers will be aware of Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ambition to add his face to a holographic Mount Rushmore [1] of Despots: Tsar Vlad, Emperor Xi and I-Won-I-Really-Won Trump.  A sort-of Make Turkey Great Again.

And for a moment it looked as though he had made the big time.  The headline was RCEP, driven by China, signed.  What's going on?  The Sultan being driven by China?

Err, no.  RCEP is not Recep.  It is 'Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership': a newly signed and clumsily named free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN counties plus South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Ziland. 

Wry & Dry's problem is not the fact that RCEP is a waste of time - most of the countries already have bi-lateral free trade deals in place - and Readers know they're not worth the rice paper they're written on.  For example, Australia and China have a free trade agreement, which China ignores when it pleases. 

This is all about Chinese diplomacy and giving the Yoo-Ess-Ay (which backed out of RCEP's predecessor) a poke in the eye.

No, the real problem is the name: what rocket surgeon came up with the acronym RCEP?  Aside from it seeming like the Sultan, it is just, well, unpronounceable.  Consider the flowing ASEAN, or muscular NATO or elegant ANZUS.  

Wry & Dry suggests AC-WOCA (Another Chinese Way to Control Asia).  

[1]  Mt Rushmore: a colossal sculpture of US presidents Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt (T) carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota.

II.  Cringe

Wry & Dry had no choice.  The Netflix series The Crown is mandatory viewing in Wry & Dry's castle.  And so, strapped to his recliner, Wry & Dry is now beholden to the increasingly soapy soap opera, forbidden to utter a word.  With only the solace of a glass of Fever Tree bitter lemon, extravagantly diluted with Hendrick's gin, to dull the rising cringe-ometer.

Cartoon The Crown

Allow him to observe that The Crown has fallen for the lazy trap of using Diana, then Princess of Wales, as a sort of Rosetta Stone of the series; around whom all interpretations are made.  This rather unintelligent, uninteresting and ultimately unfortunate woman became a victim of events centrifugal that flung her into a media Dante's Inferno, to which she eventually succumbed.

Like ants to the sugar of tabloid nirvana, so the producers of The Crown have helio-centred the world's original real life reality TV star.   

Much richer royal characters in the series are diminished: The Princess Royal, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Edinburgh. 

In the Old Dart it also seems that the Poms are watching with increasing irritation - not with the sometimes absurd and inaccurate portrayal of relationships and events.  But with all the errors and goofs.  Viewers hearing Prince Philip, who was president of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports from 1964 to 1986, call Princess Anne a showjumper rather than an eventer would have many viewers spluttering into their Pimm's and lemonade.

Letters to The Times, Horse and Hound and Tatler have been written.

III.   Pelosi Ceiling

A new ceiling to prevent advancement has arisen: The Pelosi Ceiling.  Readers will know that the term glass ceiling was coined [2] to describe an unacknowledged barrier to advancement, especially of women. 

Well, Nancy Pelosi is, again, Speaker of the Yoo-Ess House (of Representatives) and thereby second only to the Vice-President in the line of succession to the president.  Trouble is that Nancy has been there a long, long time.  And is blocking the advancement of younger, more talented folk.

cartoon no go nancy 

Y'see Nancy is 80 years old and has been in the House for 33 years.  And her capricious leadership and indulgence of the I-Wanna-Change-The-World-Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez ('AOC') caused the Democrats to lose, so far, 11 seats in the House.  That is the largest loss in a presidential election-year by the winner's party in 60 years.  Similar to I-Won-I-Really-Won-Trump denying losing...

Cartoon fantasy land

...Mrs Pelosi has denied that she was the problem.

If both the Prez and Vice-Prez went down in the same solar powered plane, the Yoo-Ess-Ay would have an 80 year-old president.

Sleepy Joe's Botox makeover would look positively adolescent.

[2] In 1978 by Marilyn Loden, an American writer.

IV.  Max's back - well, sort of

Readers may have forgotten about Max, Boeing's disastrous fuel-efficient-but-liable-to-fall-from-the-sky 737 aircraft.  It has been grounded for almost two years, whilst Boeing tried to (a) make excuses; and then (b) make it airworthy.  Well, after 2 years, it has succeeded: the US' air safety regulator, the FAA, will soon lift the flight ban on the aircraft.

Boeing's headlong rush to modify the 737 to compete with Airbus' 320neo cost 346 lives; billions of dollars in compensation; and more than 1,000 orders for the Max. 

Some people like the share-price upside: up 40% this month.  But that is still 53% off its pre-fall-from-the-sky prarblems.  

chart boeing 

 

Virgin Australia has orders for 48 737 Max aircraft.  Or had.  Qantas has none.

Boeing has read the marketing tea-leaves, and changed the name of the aircraft to 737-8, from 737 Max.

Wry & Dry has read the tea-leaves, and will take the bus.

V.  Zurich, Paris or Hong Kong?

Stock brokers are often heard to say, "It's all in the price," when speaking of an event that might affect a stock's share price.

And if Wry & Dry looks at the most expensive cities in the world, he is not surprised that the most expensive cities just happen to be, with rare exception, nice places to live.

Cartoon cities

This week the Economist Intelligence Unit released its rankings of the cost of living in major cities.  The ranking always promotes much discussion as to what a resident of which city gets for the money.  Wry & Dry passes no judgement, other than to observe that he could live in seven of the most expensive cities, given the dosh.

chart cities cost of living

VI.  Borisconi goes BRG  

In an attempt to divert attention away from his (a) government's mismanagement of covid and (b) the fuss caused by giving his Svengali, the irritable Dominic Cummings, the DCM [3], Borisconi has gone green.

Borisconi always had a dash of BRG [4] in him.  But he has gone further and announced a 'Green Industrial Revolution'.  The centrepiece of which is the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, some 10 years ahead of the previous schedule.

Cartoon boris cars

Wry & Dry thinks this is a fine idea.  But has to ask the question: from where will the electricity come?  Consider 50% of the current 33 million cars in the UK becoming electric and all plugging into the grid after a dinner of bangers and mash, the venerable Financial Times observed that "the National Grid predicts peak impact equivalent to the capacity of six nuclear plants..."

With all the chatter this has caused, the steady fire of the Brexit negotiating deadline has, for now, reduced to embers.  But the embers will soon be stoked, when the UK finds itself some distance from the EU. What will Borisconi then do?

[3]  Actually, it was Borisconi's fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who put some spine into him, to get rid of the man who effectively ran the country.
[4]  British Racing Green (RGB: 0,66,37). 

VII.  Reform 

Readers will recall that Wry & Dry often castigates Jimmy Morrison for being a populist and ignoring reform.

Well, Wry & Dry has been joined by none other than the Chief Teller of the Reserve Bank.  On Wednesday, Dr Lowe urged the government to move faster to reform the economy, singling out "an industrial relations system that needs fixing".

A day is a long time in politics.  Last night, Jimmy announced that a series of industrial relations changes would be introduced into parliament before Christmas.   

Wry & Dry is sure that Jimmy listened to him, rather than Dr Lowe. But also wants to see the fine print of the proposals, and what tactics might be used to get any muscular changes through the cross bench in the Senate.  Watch out for state-based bribes, especially to South Australia and Queensland. 

VIII.  Woke EU

Some weeks ago, Wry & Dry alerted Readers to Cyprus holding the EU to ransom by withholding consent to a covid-relief funding package.  As fiscal decisions of the EU must be agreed by all EU members, any country, no matter how tiny, has a power of veto.

Useful.

Well on Wednesday, the fit really hit the Shan.  Hungary and Poland vetoed the EU's €1.1 trillion 2010-27 budget and €750 billion pandemic recovery fund. The funding is conditional upon on EU countries 'respecting the rule of law'.  German Chancellor is in the chair as EU President.  And she, well, likes matters managed with Teutonicness, as it were.

Cartoon germanys easter front

The plastered-over splits in the EU continue.  But this time, it's not the usual South (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) versus North (Germany, Netherlands, France, Denmark); its Woke West versus Conservative East (Hungary, Poland, Slovenia).

The Eastern governments, generally, don't like an impartial judiciary, migration, LGBT rights, abortion, etc.

The reality is that Hungary and Poland will (a) eventually agree to abide by the 'rule of law' requirement; (b) take their allotted funding; and (c) then keep going with their far-right policies.  The Eurocrats will do whatever they can to keep the EU together.

But who can blame the Polish and Hungarian governments?  Each holds a power of veto.  Might as well use it, even if only to make a populist point.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Microsoft in the cloud

Microsoft’s stellar growth trajectory, especially in its Intelligent Cloud, is far from fizzling out. The company reported a strong set of Q1 FY21 results - revenues from the Azure platform grew at 48%, from Dynamics 365 at 38% and from Surface at 37% - in spite of the currently uncertain macroeconomic conditions across the globe.

Wry & Dry comments:  Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud segment includes services such as Azure, GitHub, and SQL server.

2.  Australia: unemployment up a touch

Australia's unemployment rate rose slightly to 7% in October.

Wry & Dry comments:  The headline jobless figure was in line with where most economists expected it to be, up slightly from 6.9% last month, but the number of new jobs far exceeded expectations.

3.  Bitcoin - what goes up...

On Wednesday, bitcoin traded as high as US$18,492 after an explosive run in which it has jumped more than 50% in 30 days.

Wry & Dry comments:  Bitcoin peaked in December 2017 at $19,458, before suffering a spectacular crash that left the market dormant for years.   

4.  Buffett buys

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought into Pfizer for the first time in the months before the drugmaker unveiled better-than-expected results from its coronavirus vaccine trial. It also acquired stakes in big pharma companies Merck, which is developing virus therapies, Abbvie and Bristol Myers Squibb. 

Wry & Dry comments:  The investment group spent nearly $5 billion on stock purchases in the third quarter, after selling shares worth nearly $13 billion the second quarter as it cut its exposure to the pandemic.

5.  Tesla makes the grade 

Tesla bulls are taking a victory lap after the EV automaker landed inclusion on the S&P 500 Index.

Wry & Dry comments:  Due to the size of the addition, the S&P 500 Index Committee is seeking feedback on whether Tesla should be added all at once on the rebalance effective date or in two separate tranches. 

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...

Last words ...

“China is angry.  If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy.” 

 -  A Chinese embassy official in Canberra.

China angry?  Good grief.  A tiny country dares to protect its sovereignty and petal China gets hurt feelings.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

The mayor of Lincoln County in Tennessee on Alabama’s northern border says COVID-19 cases are increasing there, but he won’t order residents and visitors to wear masks until “the Holy Spirit” moves him to do so.

 - Advance Local (al.com)

Lincoln County is Trump country: 78% of its vote went to the prez. 

Cheers

Anthony