Links 12 January 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing:


Europe/Middle East:



Interesting, etc.

Latest posts by Chris Becker (see all)


  1. Further ho yesterdays story on gas price & China

    Xi has forced poor people to change from coal to gas, even though they can’t afford to pay for gas, so the richer people can enjoy cleaner air & not criticise the CCP for it.
    China Observer

  2. Crypto Carnage Erases Over $200 Billion In Market Cap … Zerohedge

    Bitcoin smashes records in reverse today with eye-watering declines in a very short period … Interest Co NZ

    What Is The Yield On The 10Y That Will Burst The Stock Bubble? Here Is The Answer … Zerohedge

    • Compulsory reading for Macrobusinessers. Great Post Hugh. The break out of bond yields is important.

  3. The hour wait – Australian Customer Service in the 2020s

    I called TPG about 2 weeks ago and got the ‘the current wait is an hour’ message, and I called AGL about a month ago and got that message from them too. TPG offered to call me back, and when they did it was a day later. I left my number with AGL and now get SMS advertising about 5 days a week. Of course I have called ANZ not long ago, and got that message and waited the hour for a customer service type to tell me I needed to call another number, and then had another half hour wait for that number, with the person telling me I needed to go into a Branch (I was asking for a reduction on the 3.74% interest on my mortgage). Then when I went into ANZ they told me they would have to wait until they had served other customers and then agreed I could be getting a lower rate – and made me feel I had something wrong with me when they said ‘we do tell clients to check their mortgage every 6 months’ – which they said they would effect then and there, but which still hasnt been effected according to my online bank account. Of course the ‘hour wait’ phenomena can also be experienced in the public sector, as I did with the ATO back in September, and of course that necessitated another hour wait with Services Australia (listening to shite muzak interrupted every 45 seconds by some tosspot telling me ‘We value your call’ while trying to get me to go online – where I had already established I couldnt get the answer I wanted). Of course all that came after endless hours trying to get hold of some sort of assistance or guidance for my wife and daughter from DFAT, and Qantas, where they arent averse to making punters wait on the line, and they are averse to clearly stating the information sometimes required on their web pages (or in the case of DFAT facilitating people registering their status as an offshore Australian wanting to come home – they have since moved it to the very front of their ‘SmartTraveller’ page, as I posited they could do back in September)…..

    Welcome to contemporary Australian customer service. All these online systems are designed to tell people exactly what the managements of organisations want to tell people, or to facilitate what those managements want to facilitate. Of course if you have something outside the ordinary, or something those managements dont want to facilitate, then you need to get through to talk to someone. Your options are to get someone on line, who will invariably be a peon working from a ‘script’ which invariably offers the same advice and guidance as the web page, and invariably that will be an hour wait, and invariably you will be told every minute of that hour that you can do things on their web page if you would like, and equally invariably will be told that your calls will be recorded for coaching purposes (as though some part of organisational training revolves around sitting and listening to unhappy campers calling the call centre).

    That call being recorded isnt really to coach anyone, it is merely to bully the person making the call into thinking that if they get remotely angry then they may find themselves in legal hot water, or, worse, find their call being ceased, due to any irritation being discerned on the part of the peon. For the uninitiated the correct response is to wait politely until the peon registers their presence and to tell them that you are operating under legal advice and are also recording their call. At this point the peon will often tell you that you are being put through to their ‘team leader’ or ‘supervisor’ or whatever it is they have – and often that may well be the person to whom you would want to speak anyway.

    At the point where you get the peon and manage to get it through to the peon that your circumstances dont quite match their script you can often find yourself literally cut off, and sometimes the same happens when you are transferred to the aforementioned team leader or supervisor. From there, sometimes you get complete agreement from the person on the other end of the telephone line and a promise to effect whatever it is that needs effecting, and sort of become aware days or weeks later that the effort has had no discernible effect on anything.

    I actually suspect – indeed strongly believe – that it is this style of customer service which has been a far larger part of getting whole electorates extremely peeved with managements across whole fields of human day to day exigency, than the straight out bull our politicians keep serving up. The default setting, by companies and organisations across Australia, that ‘It isnt our problem, it’s your problem, and it isn’t our problem until we are told. And the only way to tell us is through our systems, which are designed to not enable anyone to tell us anything we dont like. And you will continue living with whatever you think is a problem, no matter how irritating it is for you, because you signed up to the contract or you voted for us or we are your only provider.’

    Indeed I must confess that there are moments (often when I have waited on the line for a considerable period of time and have heard someone tell me ‘we value your call’ when it is palpably obvious that the given organisation does not) that I think to myself ugly, evil and anti social thoughts. Thoughts like how nice it would be to be able to distil a really nice potent version of Covid(for example) and to dab it on the underside of the door handles of various executives’ cars, or maybe to break into said cars and defecate on the drivers seat.

    Years ago I was in a pub in Ireland when a plate went round for donations to support a young womans legal case. She had been working in the pub when someone who had signed her up for a mortgage she couldnt afford came in for a feed and she had stabbed him in the face with a fork. That is the sort of white hot anger bred by corporate malfeasance, and customer service of the type many Australians experience on a daily basis is a sort of malfeasance. And every time I hear that ‘hour wait’ message I think to myself ‘It wont be me’ but have a moments understanding for whoever it is.

    Maybe I need an evening Camberwell Carrot….

    Thats a 16 word statement by Niko at 1840 get an 1140 word reply at 1937 – all written straight off the cuff……….Just imagine that sort of productivity driving some of the nutters in our community

    • Had same experience with nrma, renewing my comprehensive car insurance + roadside assistance. Their renewal notice was hugely different to previous years. Did some shopping around, and found aami to be significantly (extremely) cheaper than nrma for the same service. Since I’d been with nrma for many years, thought I’d give them a chance, why? I have no idea. Their online facility to do so was useless, gave them the call I waited a long time to get through, and they didn’t budge.

      Didn’t renew with nrma. Two, three days after their renewal was due, I received three phone calls within a day, asking me what they can do for me. Told them nothing, except on the third call I said to them, I’m not your customer, I have no questions for you.

      They hung up instantly.

    • In a similar vein I had a two year old mid- priced TV abruptly die a few days ago. Attempting to rectify the issue wasn’t even possible with human to human contact and was instead funnelled through a labyrinth of online trouble shooting guides and a doom loop of unproductive automated suggestions which all cascaded into the same dead end .

      Took another route and located their corporate office contact details and fired off a filthy email declaring that I was now beyond the point of ceasing to be a customer and was now an active promoter of anti brand propaganda. Told them I was going to flood online reviews with relentless negative feedback and sully their brand at every opportunity.

      Next minute… custom has regained some value to their company. The issue has suddenly became a concern of theirs again and not just my problem to take on the chin. The company is now repairing or replacing the tv at their expense. It’ll probably take till 2025 to happen but I’m still counting it as a win for the consumer.

      • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

        Zero point working complaints through official corporate channels, customer service now takes place via the mediums of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

        Sharing your warts and all takes of woe on these platforms generally results in a pretty quick call back and resolution of the problem. Most corporates nowadays have teams of people who monitor these public platforms for unhappy punters.

    • Challenge to you chnvts. See if you can find the number you call for Telstra internet problems!

      • Mike Herman TroutMEMBER

        Impossible, and for a further degree of difficulty… be a Foxtel customer through Telstra…. wow…. now that’s some impressive incompetence….

      • Harry , Did you sign up on line or through a telstra shop. I walked in and set up phones and internet through my business.
        I spoke to the business consultant instead of the normal customer service person so if i have a problem I ring the direct mobile of the business consultant and he fixes the lot so no more waiting on hold for me over the last 3 years .

        • Depressingly all consumer level, the only time they call is when the contract is coming up for expiry.

          • Back in 2010 I switched from Optus to Telstra after taking up a deal from a Telstra call center. What a mistake , I wanted one bill for my wife and I (wife was with Telstra at the time) and they completely stuffed up the billing as well as not applying the plan that they sold me . Also around this time they were doing a system software change and my bill was through the old system and my wife was on the new system (as told to me by Telstra rep).
            I got put on hold and shunted from call center to call center in Australia and around the world (explaining the same story every time) with no result and told they can’t help me. I was a total of “23 and a half HOURS” on the phone over a week and a half trying to fix the problem.
            I had enough and got the telecommunications ombudsman involved given a case manager and finally got it fixed. Never again signed up to a deal unless walk into store and have a flesh and blood person in front of me to be held accountable via getting name , managers name and contact details. I feel your pain.

    • Had a similar experience last week with Nissan – after the obligatory hour wait, transfers from one department to another and then being cut off, Nissan finally rang back and offered a refund of a $160 taxi fare I’d accrued for my broken down EV.

      It didn’t end there though as when I rang back with the receipt, another 90 mins of the same was repeated, before I was finally informed that no one from Nissan would have rung me or offered a refund – effectively calling me a liar.

      Fortunately I had a witness in the taxi driver who had lent me his phone to call Nissan, so Nissan’s number and the time of call showed up on his phone.

      A day later after further frustrating calls to Nissan management and a letter of complaint and threat from me to take this matter further, accompanied by more denials from Nissan, they finally listened to their recorded calls – and miraculously discovered someone from Nissan had in fact rung me and offered a refund.

      Not sure it was worth the extreme levels of frustration to get there – and no apology of course, from Nissan. But it’s maybe worth remembering that those frustrating recorded calls sometimes pay off……but what I also learnt (again) is that senior management these days are no more accountable or interested in customer service than rank and file employees. So your observation of universal “it’s not our problem, it’s yours” from senior management down, is spot on!

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Senior management are all financially incentivised to minimise costs like Service, refunds and repairs.
        If they don’t make their quarterly KPIs, no bonus to pay for the wife’s new Prado 4×4

    • Locus of ControlMEMBER

      While I appreciate you can’t move your custom away from government departments necessarily, vote with your feet & your wallet when it comes to the private sector. I’ve kept my business with some organisations for years, not necessarily because they’re the most competitive, but simply because if I have a problem I know they’ll offer excellent service. Sometimes I’ll pay a bit more knowing I’ll have less hassle down the line. For instance I called my superannuation fund this morning & got through to someone straight away. I’ve also kept my business with certain banks & insurance funds for years because of their good service, even if they don’t offer the highest savings interest rate or the cheapest premium (I’d rather pay slightly more on my insurance premium to have a claim handled promptly & well, than be given the run around at a time I need something urgently).

  4. Note the ‘UK strain’ and the ‘South African strain’ now being widely reported (and now a Japanese or Brazilian strain), but referring to the original as the ‘Chinese virus’ is, of course, verboten.

  5. Dallas United States: 25 year old teacher Lani Huang tells her story living on $58,400 a year with her recently purchased home of $155,000 …

    … therefore house price 2.6 times her single income … with boyfriend under strict instructions to contribute additional funding …

    How a 25-year-old teacher making $58,000 in Dallas spends her money … VIDEO … CNBC

    Lani Huang, 25, earns $58,400 as a public middle school math teacher in Dallas. She made an additional $1,212 from teaching virtual summer school and making instructional math videos for her school district and recently bought a home for $155,000. This is an instalment of CNBC Make It’s Millennial Money series, which profiles people around the world and details how they earn, spend and save their money.
    Isn’t Ms Huang fortunate living in America … and … why are the young elsewhere being unnecessarily denied the same opportunities ? …

    2020 16th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
    … 2021 17th Edition – release Monday 25 January 2021 …

  6. “My every morning’s waking thought is that we now live in a science-fiction horror movie. (Hang on, you too?)
    It is a nightmare in which the 24/7 “news and information media” messaging is both (1) insanely at odds with tangible reality and (2) obstinately incurious about why all manner of worldly authorities’ messaging is also at odds with the observable world.
    So now we wander dumbstruck, like tourists on a Thai beach on Boxing Day 2004, picking up and marvelling over an octopus revealed on a seabed suddenly emptied of water, without grasping what is imminently headed our way.
    Much of the New Normal reminds me of an old normal, namely, that which prevailed in Leningrad where I lived and studied for the first half of 1985. Brutalized and brutal, equal parts menace and braggadocio, set against the grandeur of its history, letters and the arts. The Soviet Union, in five months, taught me a life-time of cause and effect. It is not a time and place I would like to return to.
    An older Soviet gentleman who risked taking me to a café told me, “In the West,” he said, “Everything is permitted, except that which is forbidden. Here in the Soviet Union, everything is forbidden except that which is permitted.”
    Last April, a cheerful article in the Bay Area press publicized the list of outdoor activities permitted by authorities in the new world of coronavirus. Everything else, by implication, was forbidden.
    I saw the article and shuddered. We in the West had crossed a Rubicon.”

    • Great post. What I have noticed is the resurgence of people who love our overlords, like the collaborators in Vichy France, without any notice let alone appreciation of the magnitude of their failings. As you can see, I live in Melbourne.

      • boomengineeringMEMBER

        This was reply email to Frank this morning.

        Where have all the normal flu cases gone ?
        If hospital cases have doubled then is Covid only twice as bad as a normal flu.
        Drug overdose deaths have tripled due to lockdowns.
        Your privacy and freedom are being taken away.
        If you opt not to have the vaccine then reprisals in the form of restrictions to travel, cafes, shopping may force you to.
        The oligarchy has taken advantage of a severe flu to destroy world economies via media (they own) beat up and propaganda.
        They tried to create a cashless society which would monitor your every move, protect the banks and have power to close businesses down by means of withholding access to transactions but ran into obstacles so now they are using Covid to implement this.

        Just some thoughts,

      • Arthur Schopenhauer

        Yeah, living in Melbourne today is just like living in East Berlin in 1982. I mean, you need a permit to travel anywhere, you can’t get a decent job without being a member of the communist party, there is no access to un-sanctioned information, no free association, absolutely no consumer goods and no chance of an average family owning a car.

        • People lie their teeth out without reproach, 800 people die through negligence in government without any consequence and no one owns up to even making a decision and the toadies approve. This is a triumph of spin over intellect, and dishonesty over responsibility.

          There are people in this State who love not holding their rulers to account because they are powerful.

    • NEW ZEALAND: The next six months are make or break for Labour … Pattrick Smellie … BusinessDesk / The Spinoff

      The government should hit the ground running in 2021, writes Pattrick Smellie of BusinessDesk.

      For anyone still looking for a transformational agenda from the cautious Ardern Labour government, there’s good news: if it’s going to happen, it will happen in the next six months. …

      … Housing

      The first order of business this year looks likely to be a housing policy announcement, perhaps as early as next week’s Labour caucus retreat in Nelson. Grant Robertson signalled before Christmas there would be a housing package early in the New Year. If anything, the issue has become more urgent over the summer. This is not only a crisis of home ownership affordability, but also rent affordability. Life as a residential property landlord remains cushy by comparison with operating almost any other kind of business.

      Only two things can change that, and one of them is not a capital gains tax.

      One, building a lot more affordable houses to flood a tight market with supply; and two, making it tougher to be a landlord. Rent control, higher borrowing thresholds for investors, tough enforcement of minimum housing standards, tighter regulation of property managers and improved renter rights would – together – make a big difference. … read more via hyperlink above …
      … The latest IPSOS NZ Issues Monitor found ‘housing’ the major concern … by a country mile … at 53% (highest on record … and a staggering 16% higher than the previous quarterly report). Meantime IPSOS Monitors elsewhere have ‘housing’ at 16% in Australia and 14% in the UK …

      Ipsos NZ Issues Monitor – November 2020

    • thanks very much for that post Janet. Nice to know there are other voices out there who are willing to join dots and recognise what is being done to us …
      Here in Brisbane the sheeple have enthusiastically embraced a 3 day lock down (finished last night at 18:00) and without a murmur acquiesced to the imposition of mask wearing (only in the ‘Greater Brisbane’ region) after 1, yes 1 person was said to have tested +ive to the UK variant last week … and nothing is said while the Premier gleefully reports NO locally transmitted cases could be found (despite great numbers of tests) so this shows – of course it does – that imposing mask wearing is definitely necessary …. and the sheeple like those in 1984 stand there going ‘BAAAA’ ‘BAAAA’ ….

  7. I recollect being in Kashmir having rocks thrown at my wife and I because of the colour of our skin. It didn’t require comment from the times of India. I would have been happier had they restricted it to abuse. Watching Rodney Hogg remonstrate with an umpire in Bangalore as Australian no 13 in the ground I had rubbish thrown at me…

      • for all those young sub continental blokes we accept into the country each year, our spin bowling stocks are depressingly bare. i think it needs to be added as a skills shortage/visa requirement.

        • I look forward to the day the Australian Indian Team play the English Pakistani team for the Ashes – shouldn’t be too long now.

  8. For those whose minds are clouded by the ministry of truth and missed the Italian involvement in the election fraud.
    It appears that evidence of fraud involving Italian spy satellites was also submitted to congress. So they have committed treason.
    Obviously you won’t believe trump is not evil.
    But ask yourself why big tech is happy to destroy their relationship with 80+ million customers by sensoring the right?
    First rule of business is don’t p#ss off the customer.
    So why would they do this?

  9. As for “tech platforms” not being publishers it says a lot when you find out more about the US election by reading Sydboy on Macrobusiness than you do from big tech, Wall Street and their MSM mouthpieces. I wouldn’t have known that Biden won by 55,000 votes after a whole pile of Republicans won in litigation. “Fact checkers” that mislead and deceive should not be protected species. George Soros’ tentacles stretch far and wide. Who checks the fact checkers? Is the question the Russians ask
    Wall Street and big tech cleansed the internet as far as they could of voices critical of Biden to support the substantial financial advantage they gave him over Trump. Thanks to them we are Winston Smiths in 1984. Let’s not make the links section in Macrobusiness the 2 minutes of hate in support of the big end of town in the US.

    • There is no consistutional right of free speech in Australia.
      There is an implied freedom of political communication, that’s it.
      But serious question, should free speech protection extend to trying to start a civil war???

      • should free speech protection extend to trying to start a civil war???

        Actually starting a civil war would fall under a whole heap of other laws to be prosecuted on.

        • Someone here said the other day, something like the recent riots were old grand dads compared to the BLM. None are good of course, but seriously, what’s the agenda of big tech? I can guarantee it’s not for society’s benefit.

        • Maybe we can decriminalise attempted murder as well, since there’s plenty of laws to prosecute murder.

      • Absolutely it shouldn’t, but it’s easy to see inconsistency. Big tech is getting dangerous, and it won’t end well for any of us (says me who’s portfolio is probably about 50% big tech).

    • The good thing about Martin is he leaves it to the audience to work out who are the nutjobs and who are not. He has people on his channel he disagrees with all the time. As opposed to big tech.

      • He recognises that not everyone agrees with his opinions. I think his greatest error is thinking that Chinese buyers do not change house prices in Australia. I agree with Mike Martins in Canada and not Martin. He doesn’t live in Melbourne. He still has Mike on his channel.

    • “nut jobs talking technobabble.”
      I often find this an apt description of economists. Their continued failure to make accurate predictions doesn’t dissuade me from that opinion.

  10. Its time for you people to wake up.
    If corruption is overt, as macrobusiness has documented in immigration and FIRE sector, then how much corruption lies below the surface? If you want to witness hell and understand how sick these people are (you will loose sleep if not your stomach contents) then download duck duck go and search podesta artwork pizza. (Its paedophilia artwork and CLEARLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK you have been warned)
    How many of the Uniparty are involved with Epstein.
    Its time to clean up the sickness in the world.

  11. boomengineeringMEMBER

    At Mid North Coast yesterday, asked a surfer if there was another break past the crowd. He didn’t know as he was from Northern Beaches went next track asked a young Sheila she was from Curly, Northern Beaches, she just bought a house in Bonny Hills as WFH.
    Anyhow , feel ridiculous atm sitting in Flower Power Warriewood cafe forced sign in and to wear a mask. Can’t eat whilst mask is on so why wear one al fresco.

    • Too many sharks mid north Coast. Hopefully it doesn’t become the next wker surf spot because of it.

      Nice vibe at first, then the try hards and their botoxed wives turn up. They’ve wrecked everywhere nearby that was great. Byron, Bali, Lombok.

    • La Niña is glorious for this stretch of coast. Mostly light winds and plenty of the fun ENE trade swells which spread out the crowds and light up some nice low key sand banks around the joint. Plenty of rain which certainly beats last year’s drought and fires. Everything is green, green, green except for the nearshore water which is murk, murk , murk. Plenty of bull sharks in close after the fresh pushed a shed load of food out of the rivers.

      I’m injured and temporarily unable to surf, fish or dive unfortunately but I’m sure there’s plenty of good times kicking around for others. Town is very crowded but it’s hard not to get caught up in the zinc cream , melting paddle pops , dads sinking tins whilst the cricket drones over the radio summer vibe . Kids in packs roaming the caravan parks , jumping off the river bridge , catching flathead in the shallows and having the time of their lives.

      Good times . If I can’t get to wet season Indo this is a decent alternative.

  12. (beware the dangers of populism and nationalism)

    Because Globalism has been such a great success for the average person already living in the West…

  13. Hey Gunna, it occurred to me there’s already been a poll. It’s called an election, and the country has expressed they don’t like extreme leftard policy such as increased social housing and the dole.

    You’re out of touch with the common people, because you’re not common people, and neither is the Labor party.

    ATM LNP are exploiting the whole lot of you, and our country will pay very dearly for your demographics gullibility.

    • Hey Gunna, it occurred to me there’s already been a poll. It’s called an election, and the country has expressed they don’t like extreme leftard policy such as increased social housing and the dole.

      The same way they’ve expressed that they like high immigration ?

      • No, incorrect, and in fact you reinforce my point.

        Australia had a choice at the election. Big Australia leftards….or….big Australia moderate with a sprinkling of right.

        Given the two choices, Australia will continue to vote LNP.

        We can have egalitarian Australia, or we can have big Australia, it’s just so obvious to everyone but you and a few others. Like I said in the WE links in response to your comment, without massive immigration, we can’t fake it, issues have to be addressed; the electorate will demand it, but with massive immigration, just get out of my way, while I fight to get mine.

        The left need to grow up, you think like 5 year olds.

        From the W/E……..”Smith “and that stopping immigration (and doing nothing else) would fix them all”

        …….”You’ve missed my point for 10 years. Without immigration, there is no faking it. Every problem would be looked at and demanded being addressed by the electorate”

        • LOL.

          Or we could look at the vote of the main anti-immigration party – PH0N – and see that it decreased by 25% (~4% to ~3%) in the last election.

          Clearly a shift of preference to the high-immigration parties !

          • BS. That was because ON wanted to open the states borders. She put others ahead of the plebs and was rightly smacked by them.

            The left are so fking clueless it hurts.

  14. Too good to link, have to post:

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—The dangerous, evil, all-powerful, fascist, Nazi dictator Donald Trump has been voted out of office and censored, as is tradition for evil dictators.

    “I never thought I’d live to see the day where America is ruled by a dictator!” said concerned American Kelly Lampler. “But at least now he’s a dictator that has been effortlessly silenced online!”

    “We are living through scary times indeed under the rule of this fascistic tyrant,” said worried CNN reporter Zeeke Chambers at a time when zero journalists or dissenters have been silenced, jailed, or executed by this administration.

    Like many dictators before him Trump will only serve one term as President. The President has acknowledged he must leave office and has agreed to an orderly transition on January 20th. He will not be able to remain in office and win multiple sham elections enabling him to rule unchecked for as long as he pleases.

    “A defining characteristic of dictators is how they lose elections and make claims highlighting that the election process is rigged,” explains Harvard election scholar Maggie Schultz. “This is all straight from the history books and exactly what happened with Stalin, Mao, and Hitler!”

    According to sources, the dangerous Nazi will be peacefully retiring to Florida and holding the occasional rally, as dictators love to do. The peaceful democrats in power have vowed to pursue Trump, his family, and his friends to the ends of the earth and destroy their lives forever, as democrats love to do.

    At publishing time, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook were praised for their sweeping power grabs and unprecedented suppression of freedom in a coordinated effort against Trump and all of his supporters.