Wry & Dry

Toxic and Botox. No heads on spikes. Tax? What tax?

Bumper Issue

I. Toxic and Botox

When asked by the New York Times [1] as to whom he thought won the first presidential debate this week, Wry & Dry responded Emperor Xi Jinping and Tsar Vlad.

How embarrassing was the debate for the good folk of the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  A megalomaniacal bully (belly full of raw meat), versus an almost senile gentleman (face full of Botox), fight it out for leadership of the free world, as it were.  

Cartoon debate 1

Laugh if Readers must.  Okay, laugh.  But the economic outcomes of the upcoming vote are profound.  Wry & Dry has consulted the entrails and produced the below so Readers can see a clear picture of possible GDP growth outcomes for the Yoo-Ess-Ay.  Readers must remember that the Democrats comfortably control the House, and the Senate is just Republican: 53-47.

As Readers can see, GDP growth-wise, the best outcome is a Democrat 'unified' government, but inflation and interest rates will be higher.  This is because Biden has an expansionary economic plan (Trump has yet to release his economic policies).

Table us presidnetial outcomes 

Wry & Dry wants to "follow the money", as it were [2].  Sportsbet has Sleepy Joe to win at $1.57, with Taxes-What-Taxes-Trump at $2.40.

[1] Actually, Wry & Dry responded to an online questionnaire.  His letter was not published.
[2] "Follow the money" was a phrase immortalised in the movie "All The President's Men".  The movie was about former President Nixon and the Watergate cover-up.  The words were never actually said by Deep Throat, the mysterious whistle-blower-in-the-car-park. 

II.  No heads on spikes at the city gates

Readers who have been following Victoria's 'hotel quarantine inquiry' into the shambles that led to over 700 unnecessary deaths will be disappointed.

There will be no political heads on spikes at Melbourne's gates.  The recommended findings did not directly criticise any of Chairman Dan's ministers.  And instead pointed the bone at three senior government bureaucrats. 

Cartoon 3 monkeys cora blame

Not surprisingly, Chairman Dan came out on Tuesday and gave his full support to each.  Not surprisingly... because each works or worked for him and he appointed each.  One of them is Secretary of Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), another was Executive Director, Productivity and Inclusion (!) at DPC and the third was Deputy Secretary, Economic Policy and State Productivity at DPC.

Readers do not need reminding that not one person (minister, bureaucrat or otherwise) has accepted accountability for the deaths.  Which is hardly surprising, in view of (a) Victoria's new and untested industrial manslaughter laws; and (b) the Victorian public service persona now being 'collectivism'.

This latter point bears some conversation.  Anyone trying to find out who is responsible for anything in the Health and Human Services Department will find, as even the left-leaning Jon Faine found, that no-one is.  A glorious blend of Yes, Minister and Sergeant Schultz.

Readers might wait for the inquiry findings of Hon. Jennifer Coate AO, to be delivered no later than 6 November, the Friday after the US election and in the midst of Cup Week.  Or just conclude that the hotel quarantine fiasco is the biggest failing in public administration in Australia's history, for which person or persons unknown were responsible and for which no-one will be held to account.

Either way, the Victorian government will respond by employing even more public servants.

III.  EU also gets collective

If Readers thought that the Victorian public service was the acme of 'collectivism', they might also consider the EU. All foreign policy decisions must be agreed by all 27 member states.  Any one state has a veto.

Last week the EU's representative for foreign affairs summoned the EU's 27 foreign ministers to Brussels for a meeting on Belarus.  The game plan was to support Belarusian protests against the fraudulent election of President Alexander Lukashenko and to impose personal sanctions on some Belarusian officials.

Twenty-six countries supported the action.  Cyprus (government elected by 900,000 citizens in the part of the island that it controls), refused to impose the personal sanctions unless the rest of the EU agreed to sanctions on Turkey over an unrelated dispute.

Collapse of game plan.  

IV  Tax?  What Tax?

Wry & Dry has been waiting for the 'tax gotcha'.  In a predictable pre-election announcement, last Sunday the left-leaning New York Times published the first in a series of articles on the tax arrangements of Tax-What-Tax-Trump.

Cartoon trump taxes 

As Readers would expect, Wry & Dry has perused the NYT article.  The Times, and other tabloid media, focussed on him paying just $750 in tax in a couple of years.  Really?  Really!  So what?  Clearly, the NYT doesn't understand how the US tax system works.  In Australia, every person would know that such numbers would be driven by something like 'carry-forward losses'.

No Readers, the main game has to be the $420m in Trump debt.  This is a prarblem for a person who has a tiny share portfolio ($800,000) and whose major investments (golf courses, hotels, casinos) are all losing vaaaaast amounts and the value of which, Wry & Dry understands, is less than $420m.

The prarblem is not the negative net worth, but what favours can Tax-What-Tax-Trump bestow to get someone, some company or some country to bail him out.

Perhaps this is why he is so really very keen to re-elected. 

Just sayin'. 

V.  Show me the money

The global travel industry has been made a mess by coronavirus.  Even for Wry & Dry the math is simple: no passengers = no revenue.  And in these times, there's an attractive honey pot to which airlines have turned: we-the-taxpayer. 

Cartoon qantas

In the US, the government has already poured $25 billion into the coffers of 'ailing' US airlines.  But the industry remains troubled.  What should the airlines do?

a.  Gear up for a recovery: Mr. Trump said at this week's debate that a coronavirus vaccine is "weeks away" and so air travel will boom as people clear their travel backlog;

b.  Lay-off more workers and wait for the recovery;

c.  Undertake a capital raising: as the companies have spent $43 billion on share buy backs over the past 6 years, they can now go back to those grateful shareholders and ask them to reinvest that money; or

d.  Go cap in hand to the government and ask for a bailout.

Close.  But no cigar.  The correct answer is d.  Knowing how vulnerable politicians are as an election draws near, they have asked for another $25 billion.

VI.  Blame China 

Wry & Dry alerted Readers to the decision of Barbados (population 286,641) to ditch HM The Queen as its Head of State.

Now an ambitious politician has said that it's all China's fault.  Usually, Wry & Dry would agree.  Sure, Barbados signed up for the Belt and Road Coercion Initiative.  China gave $55m to Grenada for a cricket stadium for the latter cutting ties with Taiwan.  The Dominican Republic received $3 billion for the same action.  And Barbados has received $490 million in Chinese investment. 

But somehow getting Barbados to give HM the DCM?  Nuh.  Barbados has previously twice decided to become a republic, before the Belt and Road thingy.  But it all lapsed for being too hard (the usual question: how to appoint a head of state?).

Wry & Dry did note that the Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xinsheng, recently met with the Barbadian Minister of Sport.  Mr Yan kindly donated 200 face masks to the Sports Ministry and invited Barbadian athletes to the 2022 Winter Olympic games, to be held in Beijing.  

Barbados has a record minimum temperature of 16.5 degrees C and an average height above sea level of 1.76 metres. [3]

[3]   Climate is no barrier to competing in the Winter Olympics.  In the 1994 Winter Olympics, the Jamaican four-man sled placed a creditable fourteenth, ahead of the United States and Russia.     

VII.  Coronavirus data

There has been much talk about coronavirus statistics.  Chairman Dan has number of cases and deaths as his key metrics.  As do many countries. 

Cartoon call me Andrews gravestones

Wry & Dry offers a couple of alternatives: number of coronavirus deaths (primary or otherwise) per million of population:  

Chart global coronvirus deaths 2

Australia: why the hysteria?

Wry & Dry also wishes to be brave, and suggest the quality-adjusted life years lost measure (QALYs) [4].  It's a harsh measure.  A rough example of its use is in a payout for someone seriously injured in a car accident.  A 30-year-old may lose 30 QALYs, whereas a 50-year-old will lose only 10 QALYs.  Hence the payout to the 30 year-old would be higher.

Readers may wish to review Click here. 

So, might the hotel quarantine inquiry have been better to suggest the number of QALYs lost rather than the number of deaths?  

Just askin'.  

[4]  A quality adjusted life year (QALY) is a health status measure used to account for the impact of a health state on both quality and quantity of life.  Loss of one year of QALY is equivalent to losing a year of quality of life in perfect health due to premature mortality. 

VIII.  Not talking Brexit

Wry & Dry has been scanning the UK media.  Neither Brexit nor Coronavirus is the main game.  Nor that the number of Poms who made it to the second round of the French Open (tennis) was zero.

It's all about the upcoming fourth season of the television series called the Crown.  On Notflox from 15 November.

Some Readers will be excited. 

IX.  Classical: gas

There has been a bit of fuss about Jimmy Morrison's announcement to have a goal of Australia transitioning from thermal coal to natural gas.  This seems sensible to Wry & Dry.  Gas is more efficient (by about 25%) and produces about 50% less CO2 and 98% less sulphur dioxide. But don't allow Wry & Dry to get side-tracked.

The issue of the week is that Wry & Dry was curious about how reliant Australia was on the export of thermal coal (i.e. coal used for generating electricity).  The answer is only somewhat.

Chart australias exports

However, Wry & Dry's research into coal led him to see that traditional farming activities (beef, wheat, wool, etc) are not as significant in Australia's export mix as used to be.

Why the fuss, Barnaby?

X.  Tinder box

It's not "some damn foolish thing in the Balkans" [5], but it might get messy.

Christian Armenia and Turkic Azerbaijan are battling it out over territory that is part of the latter but occupied by ethnic Armenians.  The additional prarblem is that Armenia is supported by Tsar Vlad and Azerbaijan by Sultan Tayyip Erdoğan

Cartoon vlad

Readers will know that Turkey committed genocide against Armenians at the end of the First World War.  There is little happiness between them.

Turkey has probably emboldened Azerbaijan to take control over a slice of its land that is internationally recognised as its, and not Armenia's.  Aside from it wanting to do whatever it can to hurt Armenia, Turkey knows that there is lots of oil in Azerbaijan.

Roosha and Turkey are on different sides in proxy wars in Syria and Libya.

[5]  "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." Otto von Bismarck, German Chancellor, speaking in 1888, some 26 years before a Serbian nationalist gave Austria-Hungary's heir Archduke Ferdinand (and his wife Sophia) the DCM in Sarajevo. 
In the bizarre world of interlocking alliances and hurt feelings:(a) Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia; (b) Serbia responded with the bird and mobilised (!); (c) Austria-Hungary partially mobilised; (d) Russia partially mobilised in support of Serbia (!!); (e) Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia; (f) Russia fully mobilised (good grief); (g) Germany mobilised in support of Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia (of course); (h) Austria-Hungary fully mobilised; (i) Germany invaded Luxembourg; declared war on France and invaded Belgium (not quite sure how this was linked to Serbia); (j) in support of France and knowing that the French would be forever grateful, Britain declared war with Germany.  It then gets messy.

Snippets from all over 

1.  Bank share buy-backs remain forbidden

Due to the ongoing "economic uncertainty from the coronavirus response" and the need for the banking industry to preserve capital, the US Fed has extended its ban on share buybacks for the rest of the year.  

Wry & Dry comments:  Additionally, dividends will continue to be capped and tied to a formula based on recent income.  All rather sensible.

2.  Brexit talks

The final round of Brexit talks kicked off on Wednesday, before a self-imposed deadline for reaching a trade agreement by Oct. 15.

Wry & Dry comments:  Expect a last-minute-to-midnight deal.

3.  Musk in the sky

"We will probably IPO Starlink, but only several years in the future when revenue growth is smooth & predictable," Elon Musk wrote in a tweet about his latest venture..

Wry & Dry comments:  Astute Readers will notice the use of the verb "to IPO".  Sigh.   The full Starlink network, also known as a "constellation," would consist of 11,943 satellites that fly in low Earth orbit and beam high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet.

4.  Chinese industrial profit up

Profits at Chinese industrial companies rose for a fourth straight month as China continues to show momentum with industrial production after the COVID-19 slowdown. 

Wry & Dry comments:   Despite the recent turnaround, industrial profit was still down 4.4% from last year.

5. Qatar Airways bailed out

The Qatari state has bailed out Qatar Airways to the tune of £1.5 billion. 

Wry & Dry comments:  Qatar owns 25% of the company that owns British Airways, Aer Lingus and Spain's Iberia.  And 20% of LHR (Heathrow airport).

And, to soothe your troubled mind ...


Last words ...

I won the debate big, based on compilation of polls etc. Thank you!

 -  Tax-What-Tax Trump, giving his interpretation of the success.

Two major news organisations poll results were:

1) A CNN post-debate poll showed 60% of debate watchers said Biden did a better job in the debate, while 28% said Trump did.
2) A CBS News poll of debate watchers showed 48% thought Biden won as compared to 41% who thought Trump did. The rest -- 10% -- called the debate a tie.
Do Readers need reminding that winning a debate is not quite the same as running a country.  Just sayin'.

A lightly salted absurdity ...

Deepak, Wry & Dry's Uber driver ... 

...looked non-plussed as Wry & Dry opened the door to the jalopy.

“So, I was right,” said Wry & Dry.

“Right about what?” grumbled Deepak.

“The peace in your household was, as I predicted, a calm before the storm,”

“Mmm, All Quiet on the Western Front, you mean,” said Deepak.

“And just when you think it’s safe to venture out of your ditch, you get shot in the head?” asked Wry and Dry.

“Quite,” lamented Deepak.

“So, what’s the damage?”

“Shrapnel wounds but I’m still alive.”

“Just, it would seem. The question is, of course, what did you do?” asked Wry & Dry carefully.

“Nothing at all, it would seem, absolutely nothing.” Deepak said, scratching his head for effect, before forging on. “I thought if I hid in my man cave, as you call it, I would be as safe as houses. What could possibly go wrong?”

“Well a man should venture out every now and again before diving back into safety of his cave. The ladies only like to be left alone for so long, after a while they need you to empty the dish-washer and do other male-designated tasks that can’t possibly be managed from the cave,” said Wry and Dry.

“Well it seems I left them alone far too long, as The List was…”

“Enormous!” cried Wry & Dry.

“And what is worse, I fear they have been plotting…” Deepak said in a lowered voice, fear constricting his throat.

“I always shudder when Mrs. Wry & Dry reaches into the back of the cupboard for her cauldron, and she says she is making jam!” chuckled Wry & Dry.

“Well laugh you may, but I think they are up to something?”

“In such times, one must consult the wisdom of Shakespeare,” said Wry & Dry.

“Not Macbeth?” cried Deepak, I did that in a school play.

“What part did you play?” asked Wry & Dry, getting a little side-tracked.

“Banquo, quite a major role,” Deepak announced rather proudly.

“But of course, shame you only made it to Act III. I’d do a decent McDuff don’t you think, but really Malcolm would be just the thing, a cameo role.” mused Wry & Dry happily from the back-seat.

“While you are having a little fantasy about treading the boards, there are larger things at stake, like my life! If you don’t give me some more advise than that I will be lucky to make it till 3pm!”

“Petal, you will be just fine, a mountain out of a mole-hill.”

With that the phone rang:

“Yes Anjali, dear. You want what? Some herbs, you say? Yew, ginseng and sage leaves?”

“And eye of newt?” cried Wry & Dry cheekily.

“I can’t hear you Anjali, it’s Mr. Wry & Dry. Yes, he did say eye of newt,” Deepak said as he hung up.

“And Tartar’s Lips, Mr Wry & Dry? Anjali says she needs that too. What are Tartar’s Lips?”

“A worry, Deepak, that’s what it is, a worry…” said Wry & Dry as he hopped out of the jalopy. 

  -    From the quill of Mrs Wry & Dry