Enjoy Wry & Dry: a cynical and irreverent blend of politics, economics and life.
Seven stories you may have missed
- Crowded diaries
- “…in shallows and in miseries”
The Trumpster has pleaded not guilty to each of 37 criminal charges relating to him coveting his neighbour’s ox. The ox being highly classified documents. His neighbour being They-The-American-People.
Many Americans to the far-right of the soup spoon are working themselves into a lather over this. Wry & Dry guesses that 95% of them have no idea of the facts of the case. Nor do they care. It’s simply that people are being nasty to the leader of their tribe.
And, of course, it’s Sleepy Joe’s fault that the highly classified documents ended up being stacked with other and more expendable paper in the Trumpster’s toilet.
The problem for we-the-people-of-the-sane-world is that all the Trumpster needs is one sympathetic juror at his trial.1 Otherwise, his presidential run is over.
The problem for the Trumpster’s tribe is the Trumpster’s diary. It’s already full of dates for the presidential ‘primaries’2 and campaign rallies, outside of which the Trumpster’s tribe will demonstrate their fealty toward the Great Man.
Now they will have to squeeze in demonstrating outside the courts where he will appear for these charges and those arising from his alleged payment of hush money to a young lady with whom he proved both his virility and infidelity.
And there are still the upcoming charges about his interference in the presidential vote counting in Georgia. And the civil charge against him for fraudulently over-valuing his assets by billions of dollars. And, and, and.
So much demonstrating to do. So little time.
1 It is a feature of the U.S. judicial system that convictions (but not necessarily acquittals) in serious criminal cases must be unanimous, which the Supreme Court affirmed to be a constitutional guarantee in Ramos v Louisiana (2020).
2 Presidential primaries/ caucuses are essentially state run elections held from February to June to determine the number of delegates each party’s national convention will receive from their respective state. These delegates then in turn select their party’s presidential nominee. Nothing more to say other than it’s complicated.
“… in shallows and in miseries.”
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” 3
And so the tides that were taken didn’t lead to good things for Borisconi or Nicola Sturgeon. They find themselves in the shallows and in miseries.
Borisconi this week gave himself the DCM as an MP before it was given to him by the House of Commons Privileges Committee. The sin was lying to parliament about breaking the law during the pandemic. “Parties! What parties?” he cried.
To no avail. His real sin is the ultimate crime of squandering an 80-seat majority and possibly helping to confine British Conservatism to the scrap heap for a generation.
Sturgeon some weeks ago gave herself the DCM from leading the Scottish National Party. And this week was arrested as part of a probe into the finances of the SNP. The two events may be connected.
Each was a charismatic populist, but in different ways. Each led their party by tugging emotional and atavistic strings. And each left their party and their nation/ state in a parlous position. Each failed to realise that leaders need to govern by thinking, not by feeling. And mistook their popularity for achievement.
Each is now down at the local Centrelink office. Sturgeon seems to be keeping her mouth well closed, unless questioned by the people wearing a hat with a chequered riband. But Borisconi seems determined to ensure that revenge is a dish best served hot. Any chance his successor has of winning the next election shrank even more with Borisconi’s explosion of bile last night.
3 Shakespeare: Brutus, in Julius Caesar, act 4, scene 3.
The US stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 index, has grown 14% this year. Happy days.
But 493 of those companies have returned, in aggregate, 0%. The rise in the market is just because of the Big Seven: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Nvidia, Tesla and Meta (Facebook). These seven have gained between 40% and 180% in almost 6 months.
This is the most concentrated the market has been since the 1970s.
Curious Readers may wish to view the below short video of the rise and fall of the top 10 stocks in the S&P 500 1980-2020. There is not one that was top 10 in 1980 (six of which were oil companies) that is there today.
There are now 500,000 more people in Australia at the end of 2022 than a year before.4 Almost 400,000 of those were migrants. Births were down, deaths were up (covid).
Well, so what? The ‘so what’ is in the fine print.
The population of all states grew by at least 1.6%. Except for Tasmania, which grew by only 0.5%.
The Apple Isle’s population is just 571,000, less than 10% of the population of each of New South Wales and Victoria. Yet Tasmania has the same number of Senators as those two states sitting in those comfy red chairs on Planet Canberra.
And if one wanted to change or not change Australia’s constitution, which requires not only a majority of voters but also a majority of states, in which state would one get most bang for one’s advertising dollar?
4 497,756 to be precise, according to an ABS media release on Wednesday.
A leading law firm has apparently been hacked by ransom seeking people, wanting $5m. The hackers have obtained data about hundreds of clients, including the big four banks, ASX listed companies and federal and state governments.
It now seems to Wry & Dry to be very clever. Not the hacking – almost every company gets hacked these days. No, the cleverness is in the law firm’s response.
It successfully applied for an injunction against the hackers (ALPHV) from releasing stolen information. The injunction also covers “any further broader access to or dissemination”, including by the media.
This means that any publication of any stolen material by the media would be a contempt of court.
Perhaps Readers with knowledge of the law might comment.
Wry & Dry’s electricity rate at his home will increase by 36.4% on 1 July.
What’s going on? Wasn’t there an election promise that power prices would come down?
This week the Queensland government handed down its FY-24 budget. And will exit FY-23 with a surplus of $12 billion (a figure about which Chairman Dan can only dream).
How so? Well, Queensland raking in about $15 billion in coal royalties certainly helped.
And of that, $2 billion will be spent on power bill rebates and $6 billion on a pumped hydro project.
There’s something ironic about that. Somewhere.
If you see a head, kick it. Especially if it is a large accounting firm.
Readers will know that Wry & Dry has little time for PwC and the nefarious ways of some in its serried ranks. There was ethical and moral failure at the highest levels of the well-filled troughs.
But, really. Now there are organisations falling over themselves to signal their unhappiness with PwC. A sort of mass virtue signalling has broken out. Over the week, many large superannuation funds and the New South Wales government have announced the ‘freezing’ of new contracts with PwC.
Adherence to high standards of behavior and practice is commendable. Not only within, but also with suppliers.
But, really. Wry & Dry wonders how far some organisations go to signal their virtuosity. And is pondering people in glass houses…
Bunga bunga no more
Churchill will be remembered for his brilliant oratory, but not for Gallipoli; Napoleon for conquering most of Europe, but not for his fateful invasion of Russia; Lincoln for freeing slaves, not for not wanting blacks to vote or marry whites; Gandhi for driving India’s independence, not for being a paedophile.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who died this week aged 86, will be remembered for nothing to do with politics or the greater good. Certainly, he was a football club owner, media baron and artful master of corruption at all levels of life. But it will be the words ‘bunga bunga’ that will be inscribed on his gravestone.
These were bacchanalian soirées to which he invited young models, actresses and escort girls. Readers might imagine a succession of Federico Fellini type films starring Benny Hill and the female cast of Baywatch. These ‘events’ came to light in his fourth and final term in office as prime minister, when he was aged into his 70s. He was also charged with, err, making arrangements with an underage woman.5
Prime Ministers receive all sorts of gifts from foreign dignitaries. Tsar Vlad and Berlusconi were good friends. The former once gave the latter a most appropriate gift: an ornate double bed.
5 He was initially found guilty, but acquitted on appeal on the basis that he didn’t know she was under 18.
Politics: a plague on both their houses
The last couple of weeks on Planet Canberra (i.e. federal parliament) have been unedifying.
A Senator from each side of politics has been tarred and feathered. Whether rightly or otherwise is not for Wry & Dry to speculate, other than to observe that, generally, where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Labor Senator Gallagher, one of the so-called Mean Girls, has been found out for attempting to take political advantage from the circumstances of a woman whom was allegedly raped and whom sought to pursue her allegations through the media and parliament. Yesterday, Senator Gallagher partially apologised.
Liberal Senator Van, who has risen without trace in politics, was given the DCM by Liberal Leader Dutton for alleged sexual harassment of other politicians. Really? Yes, really.
Each case is different. The former is a seasoned politician whose instincts seem to seek political advantage at every turn, regardless of the cost to others. The latter is a neophyte politician whose instincts seem to seek titillation of his own senses, regardless of the cost to others.
A plague on both their houses.6
6 Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, scene 1. Spoken by a dying Mercutio. Note the term is a ‘plague’, not a ‘pox’. The latter has become idiomatic.
Luck of the Irish
A man looking for lost balls at an Irish golf club was shot when he was mistaken for an animal by a group of passing hunters.
Snippets from all over
1. Goldman Sach’s investigation
The Federal Reserve and the Securities Exchange Commission are investigating Goldman Sach’s role in buying Silicon Valley Bank’s securities portfolio while it was working on its doomed capital raise before the bank’s failure. (Wall Street Journal).
Wry & Dry comments: “Conflict? What conflict?“
For over a year, a vast and sophisticated propaganda operation produced fake official websites and media articles, including impersonations of Le Monde. (Le Monde)
Wry & Dry comments: This is going to get really nasty. Just wait for M. Macron to wade in.
3. Canadian freeze
Canada has frozen all activity at the multilateral lender known as “China’s World Bank” after a top official resigned alleging the institution was run by Communist party members who “operate like an internal secret police”. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: The bank is the Beijing headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
4. Tsar Vlad’s new taxes
Russia has unveiled a windfall tax on big companies to raise an estimated Rbs300bn ($3.6bn) from its oligarchs, as the war in Ukraine continues to stretch the Kremlin’s finances. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: Fighting a war is an expensive business.
5. Meanwhile, in Dubai
A mansion evocative of Versailles is for sale in Dubai for 750 million dirhams ($204 million), making it the most expensive house on the market in a city where luxury property is red-hot. (Bloomberg)
Wry & Dry comments: The house has only five bedrooms. But they are, well, large.
6. JPMorgan chooses to pay up over Epstein allegations…
JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay up to $290mn to settle one of two bombshell lawsuits over its 15-year relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, which accused the bank of profiting from human trafficking by ignoring multiple internal warnings about their former client’s sex crimes. (New York Times)
Wry & Dry comments: …thereby not having to have dirty laundry hung out in court. See also Rupert Murdoch’s Fox settlement.
- New Zealand’s economy slipped into recession, contacting for two successive quarters.
- The European Central Bank raised interest rates to 3.5%, the highest in 22 years.
- Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in May from 3.7%.
- The US Federal Reserve did not raise US interest rates.
- US inflation fell to 4% in the year to May, its lowest level in more than two years.
- The UK economy rose by 0.2% in April; expectations were for a 0% change.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
- William Barr, former US Attorney-General, on the Trumpster being charged with wilfully retaining hundreds of highly classified documents after he had left office.
Barr was appointed by the Trumpster. And then fired by the Trumpster.
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.