Sunday Sanity Break, 4 December 2016 - 'Mad Dog' Mattis to run global defence
Well shiver me timbers, comrades, summer has come and the Turnbull government has had some wins. So far at least 'summer' in Melbourne is more like autumn elsewhere in the land girt by sea. Anyone with any knowledge of economics will shiver even during the summer heatwaves to come when he or she thinks about the severe lack of progress in fixing Australia's budget deficit.
The AFR, a Fairfax organ, has hit the mark with yesterday's editorial. It concludes: 'Burnt by the 2014 budget, the Coalition government is yet to grasp the nettle on fixing the budget and retaining our AAA rating. More needs to be done to set out a more compelling narrative on the economic reform needed to revive national income growth. The deep worry is that, abetted with a dumbed-down media debate, Australians have become so complacent after two decades of rising prosperity that they actually prefer not to take the steps required to preserve it'.
President-elect Trump has already raised international interest rates merely by being there. The US economy has shown signs of revival and the US Fed has been hinting of rate hikes to come. Both the Trump arrival and the Fed's reading of the economy point to rate hikes to come. For Australia, so does the threat of a cut to our current AAA credit rating. This is a near certainty given the miniscule progress toward budget reform despite the Treasurer's begging letter to the rating agencies, reported today. And three strikes in favour of rate hikes tell us economic recovery is about to get harder.
The Donald seems to be making fairly conservative appointments to his key posts. Perhaps General James ('Mad Dog') Mattis as defence secretary is the boldest nomination and this may just send a helpful message to the bad people inflicting great misery in the Middle East.
The sporting life.
Another early morning start for Henry as the Wallabies took on the might of English Rugby on their home turf. For 20 minutes it seemed as if a huge upset was possible as the Aussie hoppers got stuck in like dervishes. Two tries out of three were near misses, with the Lions holding the ball up and gradually Australia's lead was pegged back. Early in the second half a smart commentator said that England's bench was stronger than Australia's and so it was.
Still 3 wins from five in Great Britain and France is not to be sneezed at and to Henry's untutored mind a considerable improvement. Here is a plea for sport's commentators. Please try to explain why penalties are awarded or other technical matters are adjudicated. Perhaps the commentators are as baffled as Henry, but it seems to this scribe that the game they play in heaven is often very technical and therefore confusing to occasional watchers.
The cricket resumes with the Aussie one day side set to play the 'Black Caps'. This has no haka and is far less daunting than facing the All Blacks on a Rugby field. The yoof policy served the test team well, with the Aussie batters finally fighting to protect their wickets like the Mont Albert Fourths of old. In those distant day Mr Warner would not have been in the team, or if he could bowl a bit he might have been allowed to bat at number 6 or 7.
Received a glossy mag from Caaaarlton! yesterday and adopted some of the management's enthusiasm after dropping everything to read. 2015, 4 wins. 2016, 7 wins, and a 'better percentage'. Seems like an uptrend and as they say in certain city matters 'the trend is your friend (until the end)'.
Mrs T was cooking Christmas cakes today, after two youngsters were taken to the airport to catch a Jetstar plane to Japan. 'Not again', exclaimed the young lady at 9 PM last evening. 'Their flights are always late' she explained when she checked just before we left for an 12.30 AM flight on Friday night. We wondered what the people would do who had travelled in from rural Victoria, as the flight was rescheduled for 10.30 am Saturday. And what about connecting flights in Japan? 'I know nothing!' said the Jetstar operative when asked this entirely fair question..
Image of the week - Baltic Dry Index
Do not miss the latest Raff Report, available here.
The uptick in the Baltic Dry Index will encourage the optimists, as will the sharp recent rise in prices of important industrial commodities.
Deep political uncertainty represents a cause for caution.