Time to invade another country?
The streets of Moscow were alive last night, as they-the-people partied to celebrate Tsar Vlad’s 70th birthday.
Actually, they weren’t, and they didn’t. It was all in Tsar Vlad’s delusional dreams.
But his popularity is not. Until August it was hovering like Phileas Fogg’s balloon, above 80%. Readers should have a squiz at the below chart:
In 2008, it was 88%. But by late 2013, it had slid to about 65%. So, he invaded Crimea. And it shot back up, to 82%. What a great tactic! Politicians like to be popular.
However, in November 2021, it had fallen back to 65%. So, he invaded Ukraine. And it again spiked, to 82%. Say no more!
What is clear is that whenever Tsar Vlad’s popularity falls to about 65%, he invades a neighbouring country. Then his popularity goes back up. Which tells Readers about Tsar Vlad’s preoccupation. And also, how the increasingly controlled Russian media’s depiction of reality decays as they-the-Russian people eventually find out they have been duped.
Wry & Dry suggests that as his popularity is again shooting downwards (it fell vertically from 82% in late August to 77% yesterday), his acolytes will have, last night, presented him with birthday presents:
- A cake with 60 candles (continuing the delusion of youth)
- A multi-function chest-expander (a reminder to prepare for the upcoming photo op)
- An RAC Estonia map of Estonia1 (in case the popularity chart continues downward)
- A draft request to North Korea to borrow 500,000 troops (see above bullet point)
Perhaps, also a draft resignation speech.
1 A small country with a 300 kilometre border with Russia. It also has a beautiful coastline, peppered with beaches, small seaside villages and holiday resorts with numerous spas. And had many holiday homes of former Soviet politicians and KGB agents and current Russian politicians. It is a short drive from St Petersburg.
Inner-suburban football club follies – first quarter
Imagine that you are the Chairman of a struggling inner-suburban football club. The club concerned has a proud history. Sadly, in recent times it has fallen on ‘ardship, which a previous administration had attempted to overcome by injecting its players with cocktails not heard of in the best bar at the Ritz Carlton. But instead, there were cocktails of performance enhancing drugs, in a regime that was the envy of the Chinese swimming team of the 1990s. That attempt failed. Subsequent more traditional and legal off- and on-field experiments also failed.
So, naturally, you will take every opportunity to nab the best CEO you can to bolster off-field capability. You appoint a former big-4 bank CEO to the top gig, which did bring forth sprigs of optimism in the fallow fields of club supporters’ minds.
Alas, it became known that the CEO concerned belonged to a faith that proscribed certain practices. Such beliefs were common in various faiths and denominations across this sunburnt country.
What to do?
Inner-suburban football club follies – second quarter
Imagine that you are the Premier. There is an upcoming election. Your left-wing party is at risk of losing at least three lower-house seats and some upper-house seats to the Greens. So, naturally, you will seek and take every opportunity to sandbag those vulnerable seats by loudly speaking out on partisan issues that might influence votes in those electorates.
You hear about the football club’s newbie CEO. What would any political leader do? Clearly, decide that it was time to nail some colours to the mast. The question was, which colours? Here was a heaven-sent opportunity to get some headlines.
A Colours: mature-measured-leadership colours. “It’s a matter for the football club. When he ran his bank, the CEO launched an inclusive and diverse programme for his employees, so he knows how to keep his beliefs separate from his work. As I do.”
B Colours: a-bid-for-votes-in-seats-that-need-sandbagging colours. Launch a public and divisive attack on the personal views of newbie CEO’s faith.
Which Colours to choose?
Inner-suburban football club follies – third quarter
Chairman Dan chose B Colours. The newbie CEO didn’t hold personal views that were the same as Chairman Dan’s views.
Inner-suburban football club follies – fourth quarter
Either Chairman Dan got one of his acolytes to phone the AFL, who in turn phoned the football club and said the DCM axe must fall. After all Chairman Dan is, well Chairman. And there are votes in this.
Or the football club committee didn’t have the stomach to sit out the media frenzy and defy Chairman Dan, similar to the stomach recently shown by its football team.
Either way, the wannabe CEO was burned at the stake. At least the Salem witches were given a trial.2
2 This is a complex matter. For the avoidance of doubt, Wry & Dry’s views are the same as Voltaire’s: “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” Well, not quite death.
Well, he thought it was a good idea.
The Republic of Queensland has been in a bit of fiscal strife recently, having spent vaaast amounts more than responsible government would suggest.
Q. How to plug the fiscal whirlpool that is spiraling almost out of control?
A. Treasury 101: increase taxes.
The Treasurer developed a great plan to levy property tax, on mostly non-Queenslanders! This is podium stuff, on which university books will be written. The plan was to tax investors with property in Queensland, based not only on the value of investment property within the jurisdiction, but also on the value of those in all other Australian states.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, lots, it would seem. After a decent period, the penny dropped from a great height on the Premier, bypassing the Treasurer. Of all states, Queensland was one that relied the most on the river of interstate investment into residential development property.
And damming that river probably wasn’t a smart idea.
The Queensland Premier was kind/ smart enough to back down in her Treasurer’s stead. And did so by media release when in Sydney. She pretended it was all about the ire of other states and data sharing.
Don’t believe it. Wry & Dry guesses that property lobby groups and other vested interests held a gun to her head. Sort of like the Godfather.
Never waste someone else’s crisis.
The data hack of client records held by telecom company Optus was, and is, a crisis. Always noting that Telstra, banks, insurance companies, etc each breathed a sigh of relief that it was not it that was hacked.
But these days, everything is politics. So, how to leverage the crisis? Former Wannabe PM and Government Services Minister (whaaat?), William Shorten was first to leap from the blocks with the speed of Usain Bolt, accusing Optus of all sorts of sins on all sorts of media. But not seeking to help solve the problem or calm Optus users.
Having seen her former Coodabeen boss in the lead, Home Affairs (are there Away Affairs?) Minister Clare O’Neil chased William for the headlines, with demands for Optus heads on spikes at the city gates.
Really? We-the-voter had enough of this sort of hysterical stuff from Scott Morrison, with his variations of either “not my problem” or “does it pass the pub test?”
Clearly, once a politician, the stripes don’t matter.
Unclear on his profession
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus also jumped on the let’s-belt-up-Optus bandwagon. On ABC television, he questioned the rationale for companies collecting and storing identification data.
Well, Mr. Attorney-General, under the AML CTF Act3, companies must “keep customer identification records for seven years after it has stopped providing a designated service to them.”
Back to first year Legal Process?
3 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing
Unclear on the concept
A Greens’ candidate in the upcoming Victorian state election has a novel election policy. That is for we-the-taxpayer to pay 2,000 chosen artists the princely sum of $42,500 per annum.
Well, that’s 2,000 more votes than she would otherwise have got.
“Every now and then I get a little bit lonely…”
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasurer) turned around and reversed a tax cut he had given in a mini-budget 11 days earlier. The top tax rate of 45% will be restored.
Pressure is now on his Australian counterpart, Grim Chalmers, to do the same. Although it’s not quite the same.
One of former Treasurer Josh’s last acts was to introduce tax cuts that take effect in two years. The so-called Stage Three Cuts abolish the 37% tax rate and apply a 30% rate to all income between $45,000 and $200,000. Australia’s top tax rate would still cut in at a lower level than comparable countries.4
The Greens wish the tax cuts abolished, saying they are no longer economically viable. Well, that’s tosh. The Greens don’t know economic viability is.
Labor voted for the cuts in 2021 and promised in the recent election campaign to keep them.
But now, a blend of the politics of envy and Treasurer Grim trying to meet election expense promises has led to a masterly political tactic. Raise the prospect of breaking a recent election promise about tax up the flagpole, and see who salutes.
Politics 101 states clearly, say what you want to win an election, then claim the situation you inherited is much worse than you thought, and then weep that the election promise has to be broken.
With the Opposition as popular as a demonstrator in Red Square, Wry & Dry forecasts that Treasurer Grim will take the muscular option.
4 Australia’s top tax rate is effectively 47%, and currently cuts in at $180,000. The UK’s 45% cuts in at AUD260,000; New Zealand’s 39% at AUD200,000; US’ 42% at $830,000 and Canada’s 48% at AUD250,000.
Who would’ve thunk it?
Former UK Labour leader, Jezza Corbyn, that 1960’s unreconstructed hippie and far left-socialist, held a record low net-popularity of -57% in 2019. Which caused him to lose a massive number of seats to Borisconi in the 2019 general election.5 A record he proudly wears.
Borisconi’s successor, Liz Truss, having been in the job for a nanosecond, has broken Jezza’s record low, with a new gold medal and UK record of -59%.
Truss might also very well break the record for the shortest term as UK PM. The record is currently held by George Canning, who served only 119 days in 1827. He died of pneumonia, rather than being given the DCM.
New Prime Ministers usually like to hit the ground running. Ms. Truss seems to have just hit the ground.
5 Borisconi had, and now Truss has, a majority of 80 seats. Of recent UK PMs, Tony Blair (Labour) held a record 179 seat majority in 1997. The previous record was 242 by Churchill, inheriting Baldwin’s 1935 success.
An ABC financial journalist got vast amounts of free-range-egg-on-face after he planted on Twitter (last Saturday night) that he had it on good authority that “a major international investment bank is on the brink.”
Ignoring the profound breach of ethics if not regulations in his tweet (but this is the ABC, so no surprises there), it didn’t take a rocket surgeon to realise that he was referring to Credit Suisse, the once venerable Swiss Bank.
Sure, Credit Suisse’s reputation is lower than Scott Morrison’s popularity. It’s share price has fallen by 52% this year, reflecting seriously dumb exposure to such ringing names as Archegos and Greensill.
But the man from the ABC clearly has no idea. No idea. Credit Suisse has what is called a “common equity tier one ratio”6 of 13.5%, well within requirements and about the same as UBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas. And higher than, for example, CBA’s 11.5%.
Credit Suisse would need to burn through SFR97 billion before anything happens to clients.
The man from the ABC should perhaps transfer to ABC’s Gardening Australia television show, where he might more successfully plant other things.
6 A global banking standard of financial resilience.
Snippets from all over
1. APRA probes Canva
Superannuation regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, has questioned a handful of industry super funds about their approach to valuing the high-profile tech stock. (Financial Review).
Wry & Dry comments: Quite right too, the valuing of unlisted assets by some large industry superannuation funds borders on Ponzi-dom.
2. Wishful thinking
Ukraine could retake Crimea if it continues to recapture territory from fleeing Russian forces at its current rate, senior US military officials believe. (UK Telegraph)
Wry & Dry comments: “Tell ’em they’re dreamin’.” 1: Ukraine’s recent massive advances have been in a sort of Russian military crumple zone. Now the battles get more serious. 2: It would take Tsar Vlad to be deposed and a dove to replace him before Crimea might be returned.
Two days after North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan, it launched what appeared to be two more short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday morning, Japan’s Defense Ministry reported. (New York Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Jong-Un Kim clearly has FOMO on all of the attention, with Emperor Xi and Tsar Vlad getting all of the headlines. But lobbing ICBMs over your neighbour’s house is perhaps a bit too much.
4. Economics For Dummies: reduce supply -> prices rise
Oil prices rose after a group of the world’s most powerful producers, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to impose the deepest output cuts since the start of the pandemic. (The Times)
Wry & Dry comments: This is a massive snub to Western governments, political as well as economic. Sleepy Joe is not liked by the Saudi Sultan (who doesn’t like to be pushed around – remember Sleepy Joe’s recent visit), much less Tsar Vlad. Economically, in the short term it will assist Russia and other OPEC Plus members.
5. Twitter peace
Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter for the initially agreed price of $44bn, in a move that could put an end to one of the highest-profile corporate legal battles in decades. (Financial Times).
Wry & Dry comments: Musk surrendered on the advice of his lawyers, an astounding piece of advice. The lawyers now miss out on legal fees that would run into tens of millions of dollars. Unless there’s more to this than meets the eye.
6. Indian Apple
Apple has started producing its iPhone 14 in India just three weeks after the release of the smartphone line-up, a significant win for the south Asian country as it attempts to grab a bigger piece of the global electronics supply chain. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Some 5% of Apple’s iPhone 14 production will be in India, rising to 25% by 2025. And then some.
- The Chief Teller of the RBA increased the cash rate by 0.25% points to 2.6%.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
“Please explain to me what the general staff’s genius idea is now?”
- Vladimir Solovyov, one of Tsar Vlad’s most loyal propagandists on state television, commenting on the recent retreats by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Yet another insider-comment about the competence of Russia’s military machine.
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.