Wry & Dry

Why can't a woman... Suez blockage. Californian hippydom.

Why can't a woman...

Wry & Dry knew that it was a Self-DCM for then PM John Howard. Howard revealed that he sought the advice of his wife on whether or not to cede leadership to Peter Costello in 2007 and to contest his final election. There's nothing wrong with consulting a partner. But why put it on the front page of The Age?

Not only did Howard lose the election, he also lost his seat. (Perhaps, maybe, just sayin'... Janette's political nous was blinded by her antipathy towards Costello.) 

Which brings Wry & Dry to PM Jimmy Morrison. Jimmy this week, again, revealed conversations with his wife. And their role in his decision process. This is a sure sign of impending demise. Send for Speedy Home Removals.

Cartoon hot desk

Premonitory? Perhaps. But witness the entrails. With the speed of Geoffrey Boycott at bat and surety of a child choosing which chocolate to take, Jimmy has taken five weeks to decide that women do, after all, deserve a measure of respect greater than the opening of car doors.  

So, Readers can see that there are two issues here. Firstly, Jimmy's inability to appropriately respond in a timely manner to a non-economic issue as a Prime Minister should. Secondly, it took a shocking workplace incident to lift the dense and damp Morrison fog to understand the absolute priority of workplace safety (to put the issue in its bluntest, blandest terms), especially for women, over political expediency.

Cartoon sodom

The upcoming cabinet reshuffle and parliament now not sitting until the budget is brought down in May has given Jimmy breathing space. And possibly, maybe some measure of forgiveness as the hostile court of public opinion eases.

But Wry & Dry is not sure that Jimmy gets it. Australia wants a kinder, gentler place [1] alongside economic security, not behind it.

Professor Henry Higgins, one of literatures great misogynists, [2] did ask "Why can't a woman be more like a man?"[3]  The answer is, of course, they need not be, to get the respect they deserve.

[1]  To paraphrase George H.W. Bush. 
[2]  Created by George Bernard Shaw in Pygmalion, which was turned in arguably the greatest musical of all time: My Fair Lady.
[3]  In a Hymn to Him, famously sung by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, by Lerner and Lowe.  Harrison himself was a misogynist and notorious womaniser.  Two of his wives/ mistresses committed suicide.  He was married six times.   

How embarrassing I

The Ever Given vessel stuck in Suez Canal

Somehow, the driver of this, err, massive ship [4], parked it in the side of the Suez Canal. And how about the excavator sent to try and dig it out? Imagine the parking fine from the Egyptian government.

Readers fed up with watching Netflix or reruns of Neighbours on FTA television can watch a real time update on the ship's movement by clicking here. This morning, the map showed not only the position of the Ever Given, but also the tail-back of ships waiting to get by:

Map suez

Wry & Dry hopes that the driver uses the reversing camera a little more carefully than he used his dash cam.

[4]  400 metres long and hitting 220,000 tons on the bathroom scales..  

How embarrassing II

An elite unit of Italian military policy, acting on EU orders, raided an AstraZeneca factory near Rome last weekend. The raid was seeking to confirm the EU's long-held suspicion that AstraZeneca was giving the UK special treatment, secretly exporting doses of its vaccine to its home country while failing to deliver on contracts agreed with Brussels.

The raid found a giant stockpile of 29 million doses. But, oops, none destined for the UK. And most destined for the EU and balance for poor countries.

Cartoon italian black market

Bruno Maçães, Portugal's former Europe minister, called it possibly "the most embarrassing day in EU history". 

Californian hippydom 

If you cannot have a kingdom, try a hippydom. Well that's what Princess Harry is going to do.

Clearly the inheritance he has from his late mother and the $50m Netflix deal is just not enough. Having been fiscally excommunicated from his father, the lad has found work. He will now be bringing home an honest wage. After all, he has mouths to feed and bills to pay. And a wife to keep happy.

Cartoon bills to pay

Princess Harry will be working for BetterUp Inc, a Californian firm that specialises in a kind of corporate life-coaching. Wry & Dry has saved Readers the research effort. Here’s how it describes itself: its aims are to “help people become the best version of themselves”, “pioneer growth for the whole person”, and to “reframe how we think about human flourishing”. Its stated values, meanwhile, include “zest”, and “craftspersonship”.

Wry & Dry dips his lid to Princess Harry. The history of the Royal Family suggests that he is breaking new ground. Queen Victoria did not preach that her subjects should be the best versions of themselves. George III may have lost America, but he certainly wouldn't have to consider to pioneer growth for the whole person. 

Henry VIII did not break with Rome so that he could reframe how people think about human flourishing. Well, Wry & Dry supposes he sort of did, in a way. Provided it was himself flourishing and it allowed him to marry Anne Boleyn. But he probably wouldn’t have put it in so many words.      

I Don't Recall 101

Readers will remember the Commission of Inquiry into Victoria's killer Covid quarantine system. Its key finding was that no-one was responsible for the 802 deaths.  One of the contributors to the outcome was the "I don't recall" defence used by politicians and senior public servants.   

A Reader sent Wry & Dry a Masterclass in I Don't Recall 101. Click here to enjoy the video. 

The person in the chair in the video was Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister and Wannabe first Prime Minister of Scotland, answering questions put at a parliamentary inquiry into her dealings with matters involving her predecessor.  

Unclear on the concept

According to an academic report released yesterday, it will take 26 years for the gender pay gap to close to zero.

Hold the phone. If that happens, then equal pay for equal work has been overturned: women will earn more than men. Why? Wry & Dry hears Readers ask.

The answer is that any analysis of the gender pay gap must be adjusted for at least two significant factors: (a) most women take up to five years to resume their careers (thus missing out on pay and promotion in that period) for childbearing and rearing; and (b) more women than men choose to work on roles that they deem more satisfying or suited than men, but are not as remunerative (e.g. nursing). 

Therefore, it follows that if the unadjusted gender pay gap is zero, women, on average, will earn more than men. Q.E.D.

Australia's unadjusted full-time gender pay gap is 13.4% [5]. Wry & Dry could not find any data on the adjusted gender pay gap. However, Eurostat, the EU's Bureau of Statistics, calculated the adjusted gender pay gap for each European country and found a wide dispersion. The best outcome was 1.8% in Belgium, to worst 22.7% in Lithuania.

As Readers would expect, the academic report has prompted a Friday-whirlwind of uninformed and ignorance-based comments. And just wait for the weekend newspapers. 

Wry & Dry hastens to add that there is little doubt that there remains a significant adjusted gender pay gap in Australia. And employers need do more to ensure it closes to zero. But leave the hysteria at the door.

[5]  https://www.wgea.gov.au/publications/australias-gender-pay-gap-statistics.

Just askin'

Victorian Readers will be aware that Victoria's quarantine programme is soon (on 8 April) to re-open. This is the third attempt.

Wry & Dry wants the Victorian government to name in advance the person responsible for the programme, so that if it all goes pear-shaped again, we-the-resident know who should get the DCM.

Just askin'.

Turkish non-delight

Readers may have occasionally reviewed the world's interest rate tables. And been curious at the cash rate in Turkey, which was 17% until last week. Well, after all, year-on-year inflation in February reached 15.6%. High interest rates are a supposed to strangle inflation. 

But Sultan Recep Tayyip is not a big fan of high interest rates.  And so, when Naci Agbal, the Turkish Central Bank chief, hiked rates by 2% last week, Sultan Erdoğan went nutzo. And gave him the DCM last Saturday morning. The Turkish lira fell by 14% on Monday's opening. 

Agbal had been in Chief Teller's chair for just 4 months. And is the third central bank chief to whom the Sultan has given the DCM in two years.

Cartoon body party

Being central bank head in Turkey must now qualify as one of the most perilous jobs in international economics. It is now clear that investors indulged in consensual hallucination on Agbal's appointment, i.e., this time it would be different and that the Sultan would not interfere. Err, no.

This is how a banana republic might behave, not a member of the Group of 20 major economies and the OECD.

Chart of the week

What's going on? China was one of the few countries to have positive growth last year and Emperor Xi has been happily talking up everything about his country. 

Cartoon china investing

But investors don't seem to agree. Well, so far this year. China's major share-market indices are about 10% behind other major indices: S&P 500 (US) and FTSE 100 (UK).   

Line chart of Benchmark stock indices (rebased to 100) showing Chinese equities lag behind global peers

Just sayin'. 

Snippets from all over 

1.  Activity down

New York Stock Exchange volumes have been 80% of the 30-day average, while Nasdaq activity has been 90% of its average, remarkably low given the declines in certain sectors.

Wry & Dry comments: Has the American retail investor lost their appetite?     

2.  Oil major pays out

The world's most profitable company, Saudi Aramco maintained its 2020 dividend at US$75 billion, in spite of making just $49 billion profit (which also was its free cash flow).  

Wry & Dry comments: Well, it would pay out that much, wouldn't it.  Its major shareholder is the Saudi government, which desperately needs the dosh.

3.  UK economy's good news

The headline UK's unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped to 5%; inflation fell to 0.4% in February and average weekly earnings rose by 4.8% in the year to the end of January.

Wry & Dry comments: Borisconi will probably announce an upcoming child in celebration.   

4.  Fewer Russians

Russia's population fell by almost 600,000 (to 146 million) over the past year, and life expectancy in the country fell for the first time since 2003.

Wry & Dry comments: Not even payment of $10,000 to mothers of three or more children has worked. 

5.  UK down to one coal-fired power station

Britain will have only one power station still burning coal by the end of next year under plans by EDF to close its Nottinghamshire power station by September 2022 at the latest after more than half a century of operations

Wry & Dry comments: The UK's power sources as at 0300 GMT yesterday: Natural gas 24%, nuclear 23%, wind 23%, biomass 13%, interconnector to France 8%, other 9%.  Solar 0%.

And, to soothe your troubled mind...

Last words...

“It is like an enormous beached whale.” 

 - Peter Berdowski, CEO of the Dutch company Boskalis, one of the maritime service providers working to free the ship blocking the Suez Canal. 

In a Captain Obvious comment, he added that the rescue mission was far from straightforward.


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

PPS  Wry & Dry will not be published on Friday 2 April and Friday 9 April.  Easter/ Passover vacation.