FY23 W&D 1 Cover image

WRY & DRY #1: Happy New (Fiscal) Year!

And… Confirmed: Trumpster lost it completely. “…the scales fell from his eyes”. Xi: Zero covid for 5 years.

Whilst enjoying your Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque…

Happy New (Fiscal) Year!

It’s been a big financial year. It was:

  • markets down: the ASX fell 10% (excluding dividends)
  • sleeves up: multiple covid vaccines were stabbed into multiple Readers’ arms

  • burial planned: Bitcoin fell 70%
  • ego released: Tsar Vlad shamelessly parked his tanks on a neighbour’s lawn
  • heads on: spikes at the city gates; Jimmy Morrison’s and his Tonto’s, Josh
  • dishonourable thinking: Sleepy Joe surrenders Afghan women to Islamist fundamentalists
  • how embarrassing: RBA admits 12 months late in raising interest rates
  • Captain Obvious: the census showed that Australia’s population… went up
  • doors locked: Emperor Xi locked in tens of millions of his subjects to keep out covid
  • AUKUS aweigh: Jimmy Morrison gave birth to an acronym under M. Macron’s nose
  • measured up: Emperor Xi’s architects have already planned Solomon Islands’ new naval base
  • doesn’t apply: to me; Borisconi invents personal lockdown rules just for him and mates
  • bureaucracy grows: Chairman Dan’s empire expands

…and Australians now know that teal is more than a colour.

Confirmed: Trumpster lost it completely

There were always suspicions that the Trumpster was a brick short of a load.

Now a US House (of Representatives) Committee has heard of his deranged behaviour leading up to and on the 6th January 2021 – the date when many lunatics stormed the Capitol (i.e. the US Houses of Parliament).

The Trumpster’s outrage was more than a spit-the-dummy moment. More than yelling at the television. More than kicking the dog.

He flung his lunch across the room, clearly an insult to the White House chef1; smashed a plate2; endorsed supporters who wished to hang his vice-president3; tried to wrestle away the steering wheel of his presidential limo to try to get to the Capitol4; encouraged armed rioters to go to the Capitol5, etc.

So concerned were Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other cabinet members that they discussed invoking the 25th Amendment: How to give a President the DCM because he’s gone nutzo.

Memories of Nixon talking to paintings of past presidents.

1 Who might very well lawyer up.

2 Probably a gift from HM Queen Elizabeth

3 Really, how very rude?

4 He failed

5 They obeyed

“…and the scales fell from his eyes”

As a Russian missile landed on a Ukrainian shopping centre with 1,000 shoppers inside (13 killed), the G76 sat around a dining table in the Bavarian alps. But De Gaulle Macron was nowhere to be seen.

He was on the the road to Damascus.

De Gaulle Macron usually faithfully follows a strict order of priorities: 1) his own place in world history; 2) photos of him taking his place in world history; 3) him being crowned Emperor of Europe as the logical successor to Charlemagne7. To him, Ukraine is “a far away country of which he knows little”8.

But suddenly, he has changed his tune. Russia must not be allowed to win the war in Ukraine, he said, as the scales fell from his eyes9 at the G7 summit.

It was only a few weeks ago that he called on world powers “not to humiliate Tsar Vlad.”

Of course, actions speak louder than words. And the words of the appeasers are getting louder.

These Pollyannas do not seem to realise that any peace deal that rewards Tsar Vlad with new territory for the invasion of a neighbour invites further aggression in the future.

Smart people know that there is no durable peace deal to which Tsar Vlad will subsequently keep his word. From his actions in Syria and behaviour since seizing Crimea, it is clear that he offers peace talks as a seduction, not as a solution.

Now that M Macron can see clearly, he must also surely clearly see that if there is peace at the expense of justice the world will get neither.

6 The G7 is US, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Japan, Canada and the EU.

7 Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768, and the first Holy Roman Emperor, from 800. He succeeded in uniting the majority of western and central Europe.

8 The famous words of Neville Chamberlain, PM of the UK, speaking of Czechoslovakia in 1938 as he agreed to its annexation by Hitler.

9 On the road to Damascus, a blinded Saul (later St Paul, the peripatetic apostle) had the “scales fall from his eyes, and he saw Jesus”. Colloquially, this means a person suddenly realises the truth against which he/she had previously fought.

Xi: zero covid for five years

The cat’s out of the bag. It has been announced online that Emperor Xi’s strict zero-covid policy has been extended for five years. Ouch.

Trouble is, the announcement by the Beijing secretary of the CCP seemed accidental. It hadn’t come from official channels. And the news went viral, with a hashtag. And just as quickly, Chinese censors took it all down.

But the damage has been done. The online backlash across China was swift.

However, there’s nowt to do about it. Other than stock up on toilet paper.

Finland and Sweden get the nod

Like Barnaby Joyce, Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is an obstructionist of the old school. He has, hitherto, said that Turkey will veto the application of Finland and Sweden to join NATO. His reasons were parochial – to do with alleged harbouring of Kurdish terrorists.

Anyway, common-sense prevailed. The Finns and Swedes made minor concessions and the US told the Sultan that he would be off Sleepy Joe’s Christmas card list not get the new F-16 jets they had ordered.

More immediately, NATO has changed its lexicon. Russia is no longer a ‘strategic partner’ but a “threat.”

Tsar Vlad’s plan to reduce the ‘threat’ of NATO by invading Ukraine has blown up in his face.

Border wars

It seems that it has taken the shocking death of over 50 would-be migrants by heat stroke in a semi-trailer to awaken Sleepy Joe. His border policy is not working.

Sleepy Joe’s repeated call to migrants and asylum seekers “not to attempt the journey to the US” doesn’t seem to be working. Wry & Dry cannot work out why these people just don’t listen.

And asking Veep Kamala Harris to manage the situation seems not to be working. Wry & Dry cannot work out why.

Hong Kong: happy anniversary

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the end of British rule of Hong Kong. And Emperor Xi made his first trip from the mainland in 893 days to cut the cake. And to give his subjects his symbolic vision, not only of Hong Kong, but of Taiwan.

Allow Wry & Dry to segue with some history. In June 1984, SY Chung, an “Unofficial” (the name given to senior Hong Kong businessmen who acted as the Governor’s unofficial cabinet) met with Deng Xiaoping, China’s paramount leader from 1978 to 1992, in Beijing. The Thatcher government had concluded negotiations for the ‘handover’ with China.

Those negotiations were just between London and Beijing – the interests of Hong Kongers were excluded. Predictably, the Chinese routed Thatcher and her colonialist thinkers.

SY(as he was known) then sought a better outcome for Hong Kongers. He told Deng Xiaoping of his concerns:

  1. Instead of Hong Kong being administered by the people of Hong Kong, it would be governed from Beijing;
  2. The middle level of Beijing ‘cadres’ responsible for Hong Kong would not accept its capitalism and lifestyle; and
  3. Future leaders may ignore the negotiated agreement and revert to extreme communist policies.

He went away empty handed. But how prophetic were his words10.

Emperor Xi will not be happily welcomed into Hong Kong. As well as closures of roads, bridges and other transport facilities, police said drones were prohibited across Hong Kong and in nearby Shenzhen, while a no-fly zone covered areas across the central Victoria Harbour.

However, in an effort to create a festive atmosphere, Chinese and Hong Kong flags have been hung along some city streets and wherever Emperor Xi treads. And only hand-picked locals will cheer him on.

It seems that Hong Kong has been turned into a massive Potemkin village.11

But to no avail. The usually grumpy Hong Kong taxi drivers are even less happy. The major roads are all closed.

10 Wry & Dry draws Readers’ attention to an amazing book about the history of Hong Kong: Indelible City – Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, by Louisa Lim. In it, Lim delves into the soul of Hong Kong, sparing neither the British nor Communist Chinese her analysis. It includes notes from SY.

11 Any construction whose purpose is to provide an façade to a country that is faring poorly, making people believe that the country is faring better. The term comes from stories of a fake portable village built by Grigory Potemkin, the former lover of Empress Catherine II, solely to impress her.

Irony

Collection House, once one of Australia’s largest debt collection agencies has gone bust.

Too much debt.

Paradox

It’s an odd thing, this paradox. Work with Wry & Dry on this, he has been trying to work this out for some time. A recent article finally nailed it12, as it were.

Readers probably know that the energy equivalent of about 100 barrels of oil is used in the processes to fabricate a single battery that can store the equivalent of one barrel of oil. This is because of the massive cost of mining the minerals needed in the battery.

It follows then that renewable energy policies have an inbuilt paradox. Renewable energy is of such low quality (i.e. total cost input per energy unit output), that the renewable energy network can only be built and operated with fossil fuels or some higher quality energy. Or that global economic output reduces.

Put another way, the capital, labour and environmental costs of wind and solar power are such that global economic output will reduce unless a higher value energy source is found.

Hitherto, politicians and cheerleaders have not had the courage to tell the voters of this renewable energy paradox.

The outcome is that political leaders need to decide how to manage the paradox. It cannot be ignored. The problem is that politicians come. And they go.

12 Stranding Assets and Increasing Risk, Andrew Lees, MacroStrategy Partnership. Readers may also wish to read Mines, Minerals, and “Green” Energy: A Reality Check (Green Energy Reality Check: It’s Not as Clean as You Think | Manhattan Institute (manhattan-institute.org))

Unclear on the concept

On Monday, Borisconi insisted that he had a ‘new mandate’ from Conservative MPs to lead the party.

Absolutely, Borisconi: “wot ’bout the massive losses in two by-elections, and your gov’ments’ approval rating…”

Say no more.

Habits: bunk beds13

New Zealand says it doesn’t want to be known for its sheep count.

But then it does this: Air New Zealand announced this week that passengers in premium and regular economy will be able to book bunk beds to nap during flights.

The bunk beds are stacked three high and are two metres long and 60 cm wide.

Room enough for three hobbits.

13 Thanks to Reader PF for the source of this gem.

Trust

The Lowy Institute Poll 2022 has been released. There’s lots in it. It makes for more interesting reading than Chairman Dan’s latest cabinet reshuffle.

This chart caught Wry & Dry’s rheumy eye:

History: Apple

If Readers are Apple users, they might be interested in this video history of the Mac:

Snippets from all over

1. And Australian borrowers are complaining

The US 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now hovering right below 6%, compared to just under 3% at the same time last year. (Wall Street Journal)

Wry & Dry comments: But, with the exception of one state (Nebraska?), US residential mortgagors can generally walk away from the debt without being personally liable.

2. Cheating accountants

EY [Ernst & Young] is to pay a record $100 million fine to the US financial regulator after it found that the Big Four accountancy firm’s audit staff had cheated in ethics exams by sharing answers, and that the company had withheld evidence of the misconduct. (Financial Times)

Wry & Dry comments: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?7

7 “Who watches the watchers?”; Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires, 127 AD.

3. The cost of extracting energy

The energy cost of its own extraction is 12.8%, 6.65 percentage points higher than a year ago, leaving 6.55 percentage points less energy to be used by the rest of the economy, reducing its size and the amount of energy the economy can afford. (The Macro Strategic Partnership)

Wry & Dry comments:  Older Readers will remember 1972 the “Limits of Growth Study”. Simply, as resources deplete they become more expensive to extract. More industrial output has to be set aside for the extraction process and less industrial output is available for other purposes. This is the main reason why fossil fuels should be replaced.

4. Borisconi’s shine begins to dull

Pressure on Boris Johnson to resign has increased following his party’s loss of two House (of Commons) seats in by-elections. (Financial Times)

Wry & Dry comments: The Conservative Chairman fell on his sword. But Borisconi remains deaf to the implications.

5. Russia Defaults on Foreign Debt for First Time Since 1918

Russia defaulted on its foreign-currency sovereign debt for the first time in a century, the culmination of ever-tougher Western sanctions that shut down payment routes to overseas creditors. (Bloomberg)

Wry & Dry comments: This is meaningless. Russia has the dosh to pay the $100m interest payments (it receives about $100m per day in oil and gas revenues). But with sanctions, it cannot get anyone to accept the payment.

Data

  1. Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years for aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse
  2. Australia’s retail turnover rose for a fifth consecutive month to a record high in May
  3. The German GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell to -27.4, its lowest since records began in 2005.
  4. Three Arrows Capital, a large cryptocurrency hedge fund, went into liquidation after not paying its debts and getting sued by creditors
  5. The French consumer confidence index fell to 82, approaching its all-time low of 79 going all the way back to 1972.

And, to soothe your troubled mind…

‘I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,”

  • Donald Trump, former president of the US, speaking on 6th January 2021 inside the presidential vehicle, asking that he be taken to the Capitol where protesters had stormed the building.

The driver didn’t get a tip.

PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.

Cheers!

Anthony Starkins

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