Wry & Dry

Tsar Vlad loses it. Hats off to Dan. Nothing to see here.

Tsar Vlad finally loses it

Tsar Vlad has finally lost it. This week he signed legislation stating that only sparkling wine produced in Russia could be labelled "champagne".

He said that "the Westernisation of Russian culture was one of the prime security threats to the country."

Wry & Dry had sampled Russian culture for many years. Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev, Repin, Tolstoy, Pasternak, etc. And has also sampled Russian wine. Let Wry & Dry give Readers the whisper. Russian champagne is a bigger threat to Russian culture than French champagne. 

Cartoon putin siberian

And this on top of Tsar Vlad making it illegal, last week, to compare Stalin to Hitler, thereby whitewashing Stalin's collusion with Hitler to start the Second World War. [1]  

Oh, dear. Next Tsar Vlad will claim that the Alaska is still a part of Russia. And that the purchase of Alaska from Russia by the Yoo-Ess-Ay in 1867 [2] was illegal, not ratified, or was in breach of international conventions, etc.  

[1] Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin carved up Poland and the Baltic states based on a secret protocol in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact they signed on Aug. 23, 1939. Hitler invaded Poland from the west on 1 September and Stalin invaded from the east on 17 September.
[2] The Alaska Purchase by the US was for 1.5 million km² of land for US$7.2m, or about $133m in today's value.

Nothing to see here 1

Readers will recall that last week the Australian National Audit Office slammed Jimmy Morrison's government for its promise of 47 car park upgrades near railway stations just before the last federal election. The auditor said this was vote-buying.

Hello? Of course it was vote-buying. Nothing to see here.

But the more interesting statement came from Simon Birmingham, the Finance Minister.  He defended the scam because "the Australian people had their chance and voted the Morrison government back."

Cartoon car park

Hmm, so the pork-barrelling was okay because the bribe worked.

Hello? Of course it was pork-barrelling. Nothing to see here.  

PS.  Sports Rort II [3], to which Wry & Dry referred last week, at least had Sports Australia choose the long list of projects. It was up to Bridget McKenzie to just choose the ones to get the loot (in marginal seats). In the case of the car parks (only two of which have been built), there was zero initial public service filter. The long list was decided on a spreadsheet managed between the then infrastructure minister Alan Tudge and the Prime Minister's office.

[3] Sports Rorts I was in the Keating Government. The then Sports Minister, Ros Kelly, was unable to appropriately explain the distribution of federal sporting grants to marginal electorates held by the governing Australian Labor Party.  Ms Kelly said that decisions on short-listed applications had been made on a "great big whiteboard" in her office, having been erased without permanent record once the decisions were made.  Ms Kelly gave herself the DCM, firstly as a minister and later as an MP.

Nothing to see here 2

As each day goes by, Wry & Dry remains in awe of Chairman Dan. Consider the Royal Commission into Crown Casino, to see if the company is fit to operate its flagship casino in Melbourne. And it's not going well for Crown.

Cartoon crown meat tray  

The headlines are all about the seeming inability of Crown to meet the obligations of its licence and a mass of federal and state government regulations. The issues range from massive money laundering to massive tax evasion.

There are two issues to consider.  

Firstly, Crown has been doing its seemingly illegal stuff for years, under the very nose of the Victorian regulator.  Notwithstanding warnings from the auditor-general (2017) and investigations by the media, the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation has turned a blind eye.  Perhaps because of the fact that the casino is Victoria's biggest employer and to the general coffers does billions fill.

But it's not Dan's problem. He has washed his hands of accountability and said on Monday if the Royal Commission recommends that Crown should not hold the licence, it won't. And that's that. Nothing to see here.

Secondly, a Royal Commission uncovers the deepest of secrets, especially if the Commission is held under the gaze and questioning of a skilled barrister or judge. 

The Crown Royal Commission and Superannuation Royal Commission were investigations into, essentially financial irregularity. And each was and is forensically getting to the key issues. 

Readers will recall that when over 800 people in Victoria died because of government incompetence, the government of the day did not choose to hold a Royal Commission.  It chose a Board of Inquiry, which does not have the ability to compel evidence from witnesses nor the production of documents, as does a Royal Commission. 

It also did not choose a Commissioner skilled at forensic and criminal examination, and instead chose a highly qualified family law jurist.

Which explains why the Superannuation Royal Commission and Crown Royal Commission (so far) have achieved remarkable outcomes. The Hotel Quarantine Board of Inquiry found that no-one was responsible for the 800 deaths. 

Cartoon andrews blame it

Nothing to see here.

Something to see here

There is just too much vaccination misinformation going on. Readers will be aware of allegations that the federal government has bungled the vaccine roll-out. So, as always, Wry & Dry will give Readers the facts. And, to be fair, the data is based from the first day that a vaccine was available. The below is from the federal health department.

Chart vaccine rollout

As Readers can clearly see, of the 14 countries listed, Australia's rollout is ranked (whisper), 13th.

In view of Australia's world leading medical capability, Wry & Dry would suggest that if it looks like a bungle, walks like a bungle and smells like a bungle: it's a bungle.

Inflation and oil

Readers may have seen the price of oil hit US$77. The last bit of the recent price rise is an internal OPEC+ [4] spat, between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  It's all about production cuts. At its current meeting, UAE wants its quota lifted.  Saudi said no. That was the end of the meeting. The prarblem is, of course, until this is resolved, the price of oil will continue to rise. 

Cartoon selling london

This leads to prarblem #2, inflation. Whilst economists and statisticians take the price of petrol/oil out of headline inflation, that price increase feeds its way into the economy as 'input' cost increases.

Don't say that you were not warned.

[4] OPEC has 13 member countries.  In 2016, OPEC+ added 10 more countries to the 13 OPEC members: Russia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, South Sudan and Sudan. 

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he

Melbourne will lose the first race of the Formula One [5] season.  

Cartoon formula none

In announcing the decision, Chairman Dan did whatever any politician would do under the circumstances - blame someone else. Which in the case of a state premier is the federal government. In this case, for its slow vaccination roll out.

Err, hang on, who wanted international arrivals halved?  Who won't let international travellers in, even if vaccinated?


[5] A race, whereby fast automobiles drive in a clockwise direction around a circuit in an effort to cross a finishing line ahead of all other competitors. People pay to watch the event.

China pulls the rug

Readers may be aware that DiDi, China's equivalent to Uber, listed on the New York Stock Exchange on 30 June. It raised US$4.4 billion for its investors and had a market cap of $73 billion.  Everyone's a winner!

Err, no.

On 2 July, the Cyberspace Administration of China said that it was investigating DiDi. On 4 July CAC ordered app stores to not sell DiDi, citing violations on the collection and usage of personal information. Last night the shares were $11.21, that's 20% lower than its listing price of a week earlier.

Cartoon didi

There are two trends here. Firstly, a new trend. China is cracking down on big companies, fearful of their increasing influence. Last November, Beijing pulled the planned IPO of fintech giant Ant Group, and in April, it hit Alibaba with a record $2.8 billion fine over abusing its market dominance.  Is Chinese style capitalism being reined in?

Secondly, an old trend continues: investors in the Yoo-Ess-Ay have lawyered-up. On Tuesday, as the ink was barely dry on CAC's orders, two lawsuits were filed against DiDi, its senior executives and its IPO lead underwriters: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. 

Investors live in interesting times.

In case Readers had forgotten 

Readers will be aware that the Trumpster is holed up in his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, plotting his second coming. Wry & Dry's undercover man person in Florida managed to file a report...

This is like the court of Louis XIV.  But without the powdered wigs.  Republicans seeking his magic touch come to give obeisance.  The touch is needed to ensure Trump's endorsement at the upcoming (2022) mid-term elections. They arrive, genuflect, state their case, profess their undying loyalty, then leave.

The only thing missing is an oath of eternal faith and loyalty. But the oath is unwritten and the fealty guaranteed. All who come know that the Trumpster serves revenge as a dish that is hot or cold. 

And to press home the sovereignty, there is a painting in the Liberty Bar of a younger, fitter Trumpster. Seemingly in cricket whites, the subject has shoulders perhaps some sizes broader than the real thing. And with the heavens behind emitting an ethereal glow as if to convey divinity upon the man.

An oil portrait of a young Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago

Readers should prepare for the second coming of the Trumpster. Preceded by discovery that he was born in a barn.

Snippets from all over 

1. More electric vehicles

Stellantis (the Amsterdam based sixth largest vehicle manufacturer and maker of Jeep, Peugeot, Fiat, etc) will spend more than €30bn over the next four years developing electric cars.

Wry & Dry comments: Somehow, Wry & Dry senses the massive focus on electric cars may prove wasteful, if hydrogen powered cars develop as quickly as EVs.

2. Britain's Brexit bill in the mail 

Britain’s final bill for leaving the EU is £40.8 billion, according to accounts filed in Brussels.

Wry & Dry comments: About £18 billion will be paid in the first five years, the balance out to 2057. All divorces are expensive.

3. No quarantine

The UK government will announce the re-start of quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed residents from 19 July.

Wry & Dry comments: This is to and from amber-listed countries (such as France, Spain and Italy). Travellers to and from green-listed countries (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) currently do not need either vaccinations or quarantine.

4. On hold

The Chief Teller of the RBA on Thursday left the cash rate unchanged.

Wry & Dry comments: Yawn.

5. UK EV boost 

More than 10% of new cars sold in the UK in June were electric vehicles.

Wry & Dry comments: There's a long way to go.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

We’re asking the US district court for the southern district of Florida to order an immediate halt to social media companies’ illegal, shameful censorship of the American people.

   -    Donald J Trump, former President of the Yoo-Ess-Ay, in a media conference announcing that he had lawyered-up. 

He's suing Facebook, Google and Twitter. His problem is that those companies can keep a case going longer than he can remain solvent.


PS A reminder that the opinions in Wry & Dry do not necessarily represent those of First Samuel, its employees or directors.