Links 26 March 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing:





Leith van Onselen


    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      This is what you really meant…..

      I wrote the below on the (executive) public service pay freeze thread. But your issues run to the core of what I wrote too……

      In any public service function – but profoundly noticeable in any area where there is no functional or technical skills requirement – many of the Executive and the vast bulk of the Senior Executive levels are chock full of scheming psychopaths who couldnt give a rats toss for either the public or the clients they serve, or the subordinate staff undertaking the functions, and are solely motivated by their own personal gain (be it prestige or money). In nearly all public services (Commonwealth and State) a large number are quite aged and looking for the next pay increase for a defined benefit super payout, with the majority in many organisations actually being older women (who have inherited the former mainly male psychopath manager role with an additional sense of entitlement to add to the mix).

      The all too common result is a clique of people who are glib and not believed by the end customers or their subordinate staffs, who do nothing but exhort meaningless jargon and visit meaningless courses and ‘service’ requirements on the people actually doing the job. The proliferation of these over the course of a generation has resulted inter alia in:-

      1. Information technology systems and databases – not to mention email – which fall over the moment there is any sort of demand within departments & public facing systems which also fall over the moment there is any sort of demand volume – think the failure of the last census, think of MyGov, think of filing tax returns

      2. Entire systems which are all too often deliberately designed to deter usage by making the application process confusing, making contact for information about the process difficult to access, and having any scope to actually talk to a person who knows something about that process almost impossible – invariably pushing people to wade through a web interface or spend hours waiting online to chat with someone (invariably ‘recorded for coaching purposes’ and all too often script based nonsense delivered by some poor kid in a call centre which doesnt address the circumstances of the individual)

      3. Entire systems designed primarily to support the accumulation of meaningless stats for the Executive levels to report on – usually to Ministers offices but sometimes to parliaments – as well as entire systems which have outsourced providers embedded into the system – and IT would be the classic case study here – when these are driven primarily by the need to maximise revenues and maximise the bang for buck they get out of their staff – which invariably drives a succession of meaningless ‘logged jobs’ and ‘escalations’ or ‘Second level enquiries’

      4. A plethora of ‘faux’ systems, or systems which control nothing but simply need to be there for public perception purposes, but all insiders know don’t ‘really’ exist The FIRB approval process, the audit of pension claimants (as opposed to social welfare claimants), the examination of ‘contractors’ expenses as opposed to PAYE claimants

      5. The contracting out of functions and services, all too often without any real examination of costs and efficiencies but rather a focus on getting something ‘off the books’ and all too often embedding a private sector funds extraction mechanism on a public service, which ends up costing taxpayers vastly more over the longer term.

      The current coronavirus outbreak is currently seeing low level APS staff handle massive numbers of public coming in to apply for support, on systems which have been deliberately cultivated to force people online as much as possible, or have been deliberately made difficult in order to deter access – and therefor understandably infuriating for shop assistants and tradespeople, and those losing their jobs suddenly, and looking for support. They are often doing this in circumstances where there is little to no scope to maintain any social distance virus prevention would mandate, forcing them to take risks with their own health in the public interest – on behalf of a government which invariably bullshits about how ‘efficient’ the public service is (or isnt).

      Right at the moment these psychopaths who almost always would now be working from home are directing staff to remain at work as ‘essential’ and rejecting leave applications needed to deal with children as schools close, fudging working hours and flexitime arrangements, while ignoring cleaning and social distancing needs in workplaces – exhorting ‘Business as Usual’ for the workplaces they control.

      Those downmarket public service types will be no doubt anticipating that their prospects of any pay increase are frozen too.

      We do need to distinguish between the punter behind the counter at Medicare or Tax or on Defence bases, from the complete nutters who decide on the circumstances in which they are there, and the systems by which they are supposed to do what they do, and will invariably be ‘performance managing’ the outcomes of whatever it is they do with some of the most ‘values driven’ behavioural nonsense known to mankind.

      ……I actually think ‘service delivery’ as a concept as it has been known to the public and public servants for a generation is currently lining up with those unemployment applicants, and that the whole notion of ‘customer self service’ from a ‘menu’ went to the beach at Bondi last week.

      Earlier this year I went to a beanfest in Canberra – as one of those who took the last generation of public service psychopaths out behind the shelter shed, for being ‘closed minded’ leading organisations which were seen as ‘stovepiped’ and helped to introduce a more ‘behaviours driven’ public service model (I happen to think it was a failure that has only embedded a ‘cult of personality’ often revolving around old white women who have a sense of entitlement to go with the lack of technical – let alone numerical, reasoning and writing abilities – skills their predecessors generally did have).

      At that function an esteemed former Secretary of one of the Big 3 APS Agencies, referring to the contemporary public service dynamic, noted the following which for the first time in ages I found myself thinking ‘He has nailed it’

      “…all too often contemporary public service provision, and even policy advice is framed within a political narrative which invariably tries to send Australians who want support, advice, or even to report an issue which they believe regulators should be aware of, ‘somewhere else’.

      It is about making Australians smaller and their expectations of government smaller. Encapsulated within that ‘smaller’ is smaller accountability, smaller visibility of who is getting what and why they are getting it, and smaller certainty that public programs are actually serving the Australian public.

      Also within that ‘smaller’ is smaller margin for error, smaller preparation for contingency, smaller consideration of whether any policy is for the public good or not, and smaller scope for redress or review where Australians face negative consequences from policy outcomes.”

      Ultimately smaller has limitations and it is time to start thinking better – if not bigger – in terms of public service and policy outcomes for Australians.

      ….and its time to dirk a few executive psychopaths (and maybe get a fresh batch in)…

      • billygoatMEMBER

        Brilliant & accurate summation Gunna. All too true. You missed CTTT, VCAT and whatever agency unfairly sacked workers are referred to for recompense / advice. Like walking through a maze, abundant dead ends and you go back to entrance outside none the wiser. Don’t get me started on BS that is /was Newstart Jobskil. Newly unemployed folk are in for a world of hurt. They can look forward to being patronised by types identified in your comment, their subordinates: ling term unemployed 27 year old who did enough of said courses to be awarded job behind counter to give applicants run around, blank face(payback is a b$$$h) or long term foreign folk who met minority criteria and also awarded same type of role in more senior position:)) on a side note the white who men you refer to IMO are if the cliched rain bowe type… drag on woe men ..if u will??

      • billygoatMEMBER

        Brilliant & accurate summation Gunna. All too true. You missed CTTT, VCAT and whatever agency unfairly sacked workers are referred to for recompense / advice. Like walking through a maze, abundant dead ends and you go back to entrance outside none the wiser. Don’t get me started on BS that is /was Newstart Jobskil. Newly unemployed folk are in for a world of hurt. They can look forward to being patronised by types identified in your comment, their subordinates: long term unemployed 27 year old who did enough of said courses to be awarded job behind counter to give applicants run around, blank face(payback is a b$$$h) or long term foreign folk who met minority criteria and also awarded same type of role in more senior position:)) on a side note the white Wo-men you refer to IMO are of the cliched rain bowe type… drag on woe men ..if u will??

  1. Am i a bad person for hoping Charlie dies so the elites of the world realise they arent immune to this?

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      He’s not a bad choice. Had a rich life, well known, reasonably popular but doesn’t actually do anything. Woulda preferred Phil Collins but Chuck can suffice.

      The celeb death needs to be younger though for maximum impact. 30-40. Maybe an ex-sports type to show healthy people too can drown on their belly.

      • almost no sports person is really healthy
        professional sport is really bad for health, stressing their organs to an extreme level

          • Competed at national level for 10 years and was always on edge health wise. Overtraining a real problem and many of those right at the top of the tree in my sport (100/200m) found ways to circumvent doping rules. Their hearts aren’t thanking them these days. I also personally found protein supplements were terrible for the kidneys. Far better off being the weekend warrior and having a good balance in your life rather than that endless quest for a faster time.

          • factory worker

            Yep, believe it or not, but I was once an Olympic hopeful and that was back in the 1980’s when it was hard to find an elite athlete that didn’t have roid rage problems. To be honest I’m still surprised that more didn’t drop dead of some form of Poly pharmacy because absolutely nobody knew the long term impacts of these drugs individually yet we were downing a cocktail of poisons every day.
            I know plenty of guys (from that time frame) that to this day suffer from Adrenal Insufficiency. The Adrenal gland is vital in regulating all manner of other hormones so if you’ve ruined it then you’re ruined both Emotionally and Physically.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        You haven’t been getting the elite deaths you’ve been after now have you? Even Richard Wilkins feels nothing.

        • Mining BoganMEMBER

          Yeah, grasping at straws now. It’ll probably be someone like Rolf Harris who croaks but no one will care.


        Him and Harry have monogramed oxygen tents just like the glove mj gone for the big sleep

    • Its a good move from Mcgowen. Two ships have no Aussies on them, so they can fck off home. The one that has aussies are getting quarantined on Rottnest. And if the stupid old chunts start whinging about it, then maybe just drop them off on one of the abrollis islands that dont have water.

    • syncpointMEMBER

      Unless a vaccine is developed, and that is unlikely for at least 18 months, international tourism is dead. The government is gradually increasing the number of restrictions, before an order to stay at home for a month is given to get the virus under control. Once they have stamped out the virus in Australia, any new arrivals maybe carrying the virus so would need to be force quarantined for 2 weeks. What tourist is willing to do that? Similarly, any Australian returning to Australia will have to quarantine. The quarantine will be there for years. Without a vaccine, there is no going back to what was before.

        • Had a newly single friend return from a cruise a couple of months back. She said it was ‘Rampant sex and alcohol for 10 days straight!”. She only saw the inside of her cabin to change clothes! “Who’d pay for a cabin with a view? You get to stay in a different one every night!” I’m not sure that’s going to go away…..(PS: She is stuck in Brazil at the moment though – no flights home)

          • That was my experience on the Fairstar in the mid 80’s, just before the Aids scare. Everyone out for a ‘holiday romance’. Then the scare came along & everyone shut up like clams for a couple of years.

    • They ought to send them back to their port of registration. I’m sure the Monrovian, Panamanian and Bermudan health systems would welcome them with both arms. More like a flag of inconvenience at the moment.

  2. So we have the Fed chucking $US2.0T at the “market (whatever that is anymore?)” & the ECB doing whatever trillion/zillion thingy’s they are proposing & China is doing whatever they do which seems opaque & Japan is doing more of what it has done since 1989. If all these economies can just chuck this stuff out there with whatever it takes why didn’t they do it before or just do it always? What is it that they are actually proposing to do? Where does it all end or also where does it all come from? And given it sounds much like what happened after GFC what is the point? And finally & TBH much more importantly what will all this transpire into in say 5 to 10 to 15 years when I am wanting to cash in my chips? It all sounds so incredibly powerful & awe-inspiring but what is it really doing & what are the consequences?

    • Good question and I have no fvcking answer other than the 1% are more concerned with saving economies than peoples lives. Who knows what the world will look like coming out the other side of this. I’m guessing a lot of anger.

    • You can bet it will just lead to further inequality and hopefully a revolution. With lamp posts and guillotines. Don’t hold cash for long periods of time.

        • I am not an advocate of the guillotine. Better to destroy the livelihoods of rent-seekers, like these fools:

          “An investment club which claims to have helped create more than 5000 property millionaires has hit back at efforts to force landlords to assist renters in financial stress due to the coronavirus crisis.

          “While federal and state governments work on a plan to secure rent relief and stop tenant evictions, Brisbane’s Property Club said it was unable and unwilling to help.

          “Our members simply don’t have the money to compensate tenants during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Troy Gunasekera, national manager for the Property Club.

          “Mr Gunaskera said its member were “average wage earners” who had already been hit by “huge increases in mortgage repayments” and higher interest rates on investor loans.”

          Sob. This cohort is about to discover what the word risk means.

  3. I’m astounded at the bounce of the last days of markers around the world
    Is this the recovery and one should be buying in or is this a bear trap set by Trumps bluster and money – not his of course

    • Massive dead cat bounce. I dont give a sh!t how much the fed prints, the REAL economy is absolutely fvcked. What the fvcktards in CB’s forget is that it is the 99% of us plebs that actually sustain spending and support real business. That is about to grind to a halt.

      • MountainGuinMEMBER

        A consumption based economy with consumption either banned, folks unable to spend or unwilling to spend.

      • I am with you on this one. Just spent some time on Seeking Alpha where debate is whether Fed stimulus package will have enduring effects on Stock market – ie this is not a dead cat bounce. No real consideration of virus and effects it can have if economy shuts down. I suppose it is Merica- and a few dead oldies don’t mean much if that’s the price you pay for keeping the doors open.

    • Those 1929 and 1987 comparison charts are eerily similar. Similar tracking with a bull trap right about now.

    • billygoatMEMBER

      @Troo Doh
      T – Virus released by (P) Resident Evil is in my Top Ten apocalyptic ways to destroy the world and it’s annoying populace. Excellent movie for the zombie movie loving masses. Running a close second is the mud (dum -b) flud doing the rounds on poo tube…Game Of Thrones got everyone hot, wet & hard for the ice wall F eee scenario… winter is coming:))) Movie Magic gotta love it. Content creators ie writers, producers and act whores can literally do / create anything and folk can’t get enough. War If The Worlds 1930s radio reading fear porn. Pleasure – Pain principle

      • Just watched World War Z again. Unfortunately they scrapped the sequel last year. Would have been great timing having it released during the pandemic.

  4. desmodromicMEMBER

    I’m beginning to think we might be handling this crisis reasonably well, in relative terms. This may surprise given Scummo’s many ineptitudes and our mishandling of cruise ships but look here

    Australia is
    18th for Total Cases
    36th for Total Deaths
    54th for Cases per Capita, and
    57th for deaths per Capita

    Of course, these figures are only as good as the data. Some small principalities have recorded corona deaths but no cases and some countries with millions of people have a handful or less of cases, notably in Africa. Significantly, the USA has now topped the charts for new cases at over 5,500 per day. I fear this outbreak has a long way to run yet.

    • I’ve thought the same. Stepping back and removing some of the hourly/daily media noise – and my dislike of our politicians – the numbers SO FAR seem comparatively ok. The apparent key to all this is early and swift action, and whilst the government fumbled their plan & changed tact daily, they at least fumbled quickly and regularly. Our testing stats seem good, however schools remain an issue.

      Our overall count is skewed towards imported cases and direct contact with these cases. The number of reported community contracted cases seems relatively low, so we won’t know for 1-2 weeks just how effective the new restrictions have been.

      Clearly it’s very early days and things can change quickly, but as you say….we could be in a worse spot right now, e.g. the US of A.

    • I tentatively agree with the caveat it is down to the Lucky Country (run by mediocre people) effect.
      We have had time to see what happened elsewhere.
      We still have relatively low density urban living and part from the Ruby Princess debacle contact tracing is good here owing to functioning public health units.
      Italy had the virus running unchecked for a month before they woke up.
      The US is so opposed to “socialist” medicine they are now reaping what they have sown.
      Paris and Madrid are high density cities as is NY.
      It should be a wake up call to those who want to increase out urban densities enormously. But alas it won’t be.

      • I agree that we needed an “Italy” before many tough decisions would be made. Sadly for Spain that didn’t get the chance.

        If only we could have had the full “Wuhan” to properly understand the full effect – but you know, criticising China’s secrecy and propaganda is r…….t.

    • From a deaths perspective, yes. From a case number, nope, every measure is reactionary, rather than proactive. Until very recently testing in Australia has been very restricted, primarily due to the lack of reagents to perform the PCR. There is still a very lax attitude on the ground.

      The advent of the new 15 minute point of care test with pin prick might help change things a little.

      EDIT: my favourite website at present to monitor this sh!t

      Conservative estimates of true infection rate is x5, non-conservative estimates in modelling suggest up to 40x


      I think it’s too early in Oz to get excited. I kinda see the numbers as a flywheel. You won’t start seeing a drop in cases (barring testing abberations) until around 3-4 weeks after an effective full lockdown*.

      This is because symptoms might not show up for 2 weeks (or potentially not at all). Only people with relatively serious symptoms will get tested (as per guidelines unless you’ve been OS). So in that time you’ve been asymptomatic, you’ve probably been shedding, spreading it around further. Each new vector that gets it goes around doing the same thing – to work, touching surfaces, to the supermarket, to the hairdresser (who’s asymptomatic).. You get the drift. All these new cases add to the flywheel that’s spinning in full effect in about 3 weeks to a month(ish).

      Also deaths lag cases. If it takes up to two weeks to show symptoms and if you DO have a severe case that requires a ventilator, they’ll usually be hooked up for a couple weeks – it takes that long for this thing to work itself out, or not.

      *Australia is not there yet. I mean Ruby Princess fiasco was less than a week ago. People are still going out. (my house mates are still having their partners over who are working in industries where social distancing isn’t possible, nor is it taken seriously.) From the modelling I saw on abc last night, if 8 out of 10 minimum don’t stay home completely, your lockdown is effectively useless (ie. Bad for the economy, and bad for the health outcome). There is no way we’re at 8/10 staying home.

      Old Trumpy is absoloutely dreaming that the economy will be open by Easter. It’s gonna be a bloodbath around then (here too unfortunately).

    • The deaths will stay fairly well under control until we start running run out of ICU beds in our major cities. You have a lag time from hospital admission to ICU to death. Once you remove the step of going to the ICU, because you have run out of capacity, the numbers of deaths jump. 2 – 3 weeks tops.


    Coronavirus death toll in Italy’s Lombardy rises by around 296 in a day: source … Reuters

    ROME (Reuters) – The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 296 in a day to some 4,474, a source familiar with the data said on Wednesday.

    The figure is down sharply compared to some 402 deaths on Tuesday. If confirmed, it will be the lowest daily death toll in Lombardy since March 19. … read more via hyperlink above …
    Italy reports 683 more coronavirus deaths: Live updates … ALJAZEERA

    … extract …

    … The hardest-hit northern region of Lombardy reported a sharp fall in the number of deaths compared with the day before, but remained in a critical situation, with a total of 4,474 deaths and 32,346 cases. … read more via hyperlink above …


        Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say? … OPINION Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattachary … Wall Street Journal … behind paywall …
        h/t JG

        Current estimates about the Covid-19 fatality rate may be too high by orders of magnitude.

        If it’s true that the novel coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, then the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified. But there’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.

        Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate—2% to 4% of people with confirmed Covid-19 have died, according to the World Health Organization and others. So if 100 million Americans ultimately get the disease, two million to four million could die. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases.

        The latter rate is misleading because of selection bias in testing. The degree of bias is uncertain because available data are limited. But it could make the difference between an epidemic that kills 20,000 and one that kills two million. If the number of actual infections is much larger than the number of cases—orders of magnitude larger—then the true fatality rate is much lower as well. That’s not only plausible but likely based on what we know so far. … read more via hyperlink above …
        Dr. Bendavid and Dr. Bhattacharya are professors of medicine at Stanford. Neeraj Sood contributed to this article.” End Quote

  6. From FT – comments section:

    The UK Chancellor has recently committed to pay up to 80% of the salary of each worker who would otherwise be laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This, and other, charitable actions mirror actions taken by Finance Ministers in the US, Denmark and France to name but a few. The problem is that there is no underlying national pot of gold to support such largesse and in each case, indeed in virtually every Western country, this beneficence must be paid for by loans and/or by printing money(QE).
    Since the Corona pandemic could, if the events of 1918 and 1919 are anything to go by, last for maybe as long as 18 months to 2 years, by any conventional economic measure this would bankrupt almost all Western economies.
    At the closing stage of WWII the Allies met at Bretton Woods to plan the world economy after their victory over the Axis Powers. This meeting, together with the Marshall Aid Plan that followed, laid the foundations for the economic growth that followed the end of the war, and has lasted almost until the present day.
    In the wake of COVID-19 much of the world economy is likely to be in similar straitened circumstances, and Noble Laureates need now to begin crafting the shape of the new global economy to create economic stability and positive growth, rather than accept the chaos of the 1920s, or that which followed the Black Death

    • Ooooo…positive growth, good luck with that. Maybe we had room for that in the 50’s and 60’s, but I doubt we do know. I think we actually need some prolonged negative sideways movement with a general reorientation of our economic direction. Possibly a more difficult problem to solve.

    • It takes 10 days to make antibodies so it doesn’t help to stop new infections, but if you do have antibodies then you should be immune from infection and no longer be infectious. There was a study that showed you can no longer infect cell culture once antibodies are produced even if your testing positive by PCR.


    Here’s what you need to know before you consider a mortgage holiday … Susan Edmunds … Stuff NZ
    … h/t PL …

    There’s a message for anyone considering taking a mortgage repayment holiday: Take care. It could lead to more pain in future.

    The country’s banks have agreed to a mortgage holiday scheme, in which customers who have experienced an income drop due to Covid-19 can stop paying their home loans for six months.

    That gives some cash flow relief in the short-term.

    But borrowers’ mortgages will be bigger at the end of the holiday than they were when it began because interest still accrues.
    Following the 2007 event, why did the Central Bank of Ireland generally cap mortgages at 3.5 times annual household incomes ? …access background research …

    Mortgage Measures – Central Bank of Ireland

    Why have the New Zealand Banks been so grossly irresponsible and reckless lending well in excess of these multiples ?

    In normal markets, housing should not exceed 3.0 times gross annual household incomes, requiring mortgage loads of about 2.5 times … 2020 16th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey …

    • I saw plenty of this in late January. Australia’s PPE boxed up at Aust Post shops around Sydney.

    • I thought Greenland was a property development company – seemed like they’d cancelled all that to stockpile goods for the glorious CCP. Should have their assets seized and be shut down immediately.

    • After all the tough talk, where’s our tough beat cop Dutton? Bet he’s on the phone right now getting verrrwy crowth with them.

      • Scotty actually said he was going after pallets at the airport a couple of days ago along with plenty of other breathy nothings. It’s likely already gone (so now he can mention it) & he’s behind the curve where he always is. At least there was admission it was happening – where were the papers on this for the last 6 weeks?

  8. Can someone please explain why there are still 3000 Australians on 25 cruise ships around the world? They don’t believe in news?
    Also the Philippines has a large exposure to Covid19 from cruise ships. They had over 1000 workers from just 2 ships, the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess. Globally the Philippines has nearly 350,000 maritime workers who work overseas. I’m betting plenty of them are now back in the Philippines spreading the virus.

  9. “The coronavirus crisis contributed for the first time to the collapse of a national government on Wednesday after a majority of lawmakers in Kosovo voted to bring down the country’s ruling coalition, following a political dispute related in part to the pandemic.”


    “Health experts are warning that Turkey could soon rival Italy in terms of coronavirus cases, after the number of cases and deaths surged in a short time.”