Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Macro View – Health, Financial And Political News Relevant To E-Health And The Health Sector In General.

September 20, 2018 Edition.
What can one add about Trump. He is now denying significant death counts for Cyclone Maria last year while a huge storm is drowning the Carolinas while at the same time attacking China with Trade Tariffs. The man is a plain menace – no wonder there is a ‘Resistance’!
Each week I think Theresa will be kicked out but she still hangs on while the Governor of the Bank of England predicts economic catastrophe if she gets her way.
In OZ we have our old PM behaving like all old PMs and trying to blow up the Government he used to lead. What can one say?
OK – and we now have a Royal Commission into Aged Care – that will be just awful I suspect!
Here are a few other things I have noticed.

Major Issues.

  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 1:45 PM

What economists are thinking about the next wave of reform

Breaking up the banks, circling them with industry superannuation fund-backed banks or "people's banks" offering "no frills" retail banking out of Australia Post or the Reserve Bank, letting the Future Fund manage super, taxing "economic rents" instead of company profits.
In short, ditching our Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism for a "German-style" version.
These are just a few of the ideas some of Australia's finest economic and financial minds – including some of the engine drivers of the last great reform wave of the 1980s and 1990s – are mulling over as they contemplate an economy that 10 years after the global financial crisis still isn't delivering for all Australians.

Scott Morrison facing a herculean task of getting Coalition back on track

  • 12:00AM September 10, 2018
Scott Morrison faces a herculean task. The electorate may have endorsed him as Prime Minister but it is clearly preparing to brutalise the government he now leads.
Labor’s primary vote of 42 per cent is devastating for the ­Coalition. It is the most popular support the party has enjoyed in eight years following the so-called sugar hit of rolling Kevin Rudd.
Ironically, it is only slightly down on the 43.38 per cent that delivered it 23 seats against John Howard in the 2007 Ruddslide.
As the numbers stand now, on a two-party-preferred vote of 56/44, Bill Shorten is on course to deliver something even more disastrous for the Liberal Party with at least 30 seats at risk.
  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 11:15 PM

Intelligence officials plan to repel fake news in Australian federal election

Australian intelligence and government officials are working on the best means to repel attacks from foreign actors attempting to cause unrest and interfere with the 2019 federal election via the dissemination of fake news of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
A new wave of election interference came into the spotlight following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016.
Russia-linked accounts were discovered to have been circulating false stories over Facebook, Twitter and Google before the election in an attempt to whip up social and political unrest with outlandish claims which many Americans believed.
  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 11:00 PM

Gerard Minack on what caused the GFC

by Gerard Minack
Lehman Brothers' collapse wasn't the start of the global financial crisis. It wasn't the cause of the GFC.
But Lehman's implosion was the emblematic event of the GFC, a blazing demonstration of how corporate avarice and incompetence, corrupted markets and purblind regulators, misguided policy structures and policy-maker stuff-ups created the greatest economic catastrophe in 80 years.
The policy response to the GFC addressed some of the narrow causes of the crisis. Banks now need larger capital buffers and can't use as much leverage. It's more difficult for them to punt on markets.
  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 11:45 PM

Scott Morrison buries NEG again. And again.

Just in case you've been stuck in a cave somewhere, the government has announced at least four times now that the National Energy Guarantee is dead.
Four days before the leadership change, Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg held a joint press conference to kick the policy into the Never-Never because they could not get the emissions reduction component though Parliament.
This didn't stop the rebels forcing a leadership spill anyway, underscoring once and for all that dumping Turnbull was never about the policy. However, just for good measure, when Morrison announced his new cabinet had stripped emissions reduction away from the energy portfolio, and pointedly declined to back the NEG, the NEG was dead again.

Migration overhaul: Regional needs to guide population policy

By David Crowe
9 September 2018 — 12:05am
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has cleared the ground for a migration overhaul that confronts surging growth in Sydney and Melbourne, using regional rules to set a different approach for each part of the country.
Mr Morrison said there "could be a case" for tougher rules that slowed the intake of some temporary migrants into congested cities, but he warned against simplistic changes that would hurt areas that needed more workers.
In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, the Prime Minister likened his new approach to dealing with the huge variations in weather conditions across Australia.

Moderates are walking away from the Liberal Party altogether

  • September 10, 2018
Today’s Newspoll really has highlighted the skills and abilities of the coup plotters – their capacity to make a difficult electoral position catastrophically worse.
Four consecutive two party preferred results showing the government trailing Labor by a mere two points under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership – 49 to 51 per cent – have been replaced by two polls with Labor’s lead blowing out to 56 to 44 per cent. No honeymoon there.
Scott Morrison clearly has a lot of work to do to even save the furniture at the next election, but the margin undoubtedly would have been even worse had the reactionaries gotten everything they wanted, including Peter Dutton as PM.

Coming soon: mini budget and bank tax hike

  • 6:13AM September 10, 2018
Josh Frydenberg is facing the horrible distinction of being the first treasurer since Jim Cairns in 1975 and Chris Bowen in 2013 to come and go without having brought down a budget.
He must be consumed with dread at the thought of being on the same sparsely-populated honour board as Jim Cairns, but Frydenberg said yesterday he would keep any thoughts about his first budget and the election to conversations between himself and the Prime Minister. What follows, therefore, is pure speculation.
His only hope of getting a budget in before the election is for the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to persuade the Governor-General and the electoral authorities to delay the poll for a week or two past the May 18 deadline for a half-Senate election, and for Frydenberg to bring forward the 2019-20 budget to the first Tuesday in May rather than the second.
  • Sep 10 2018 at 12:04 PM

In a global financial crisis, sometimes you don’t tell the whole story

It is time to admit that I once deliberately withheld important information from readers. It was 10 years ago, the financial crisis was at its worst, and I think I did the right thing. But a decade on from the 2008 crisis (our front pages from the period are at https://www.ft.com/financial-crisis ), I need to discuss it.
The moment came on September 17, two days after Lehman declared bankruptcy. That Wednesday was — for me — the scariest day of the crisis, when world finance came closest to all-out collapse. But I did not write as much in the FT.
Two critical news items had broken on Tuesday night. First, AIG received an $US8.5bn bailout. It needed it because it had to pay up for credit default swap transactions it had guaranteed. Without those guarantees, bonds sitting on banks' balance sheets and assumed to be of no risk would instead be deemed worthless. That would instantly render many of the banks holding them technically insolvent.
  • Sep 10 2018 at 3:56 PM

RBA warns of vulnerability but says household debt crisis 'not imminent'

The explosion of mortgage debt has made Australian households, banks and the economy more vulnerable to a downturn, but with a robust economy and falling unemployment, the Reserve Bank remains confident that there are no immediate reasons for alarm.
Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor Michelle Bullock, who heads the bank's financial stability department, in a speech on Monday provided a detailed picture of the rapid build-up in household debt since the early 1990s. The ratio of household debt to income has climbed to 190 per cent, from around 160 per cent five years ago, and from 70 per cent 30 years ago.
Ms Bullock also noted that in a global context Australians have been particularly enthusiastic in their borrowing. In the early 1990s Australia had debt-to-income ratio lower than two thirds of countries in her sample; now we are among the top 25 per cent, Ms Bullock said.
  • Sep 11 2018 at 3:52 AM

Four reasons to be cautious about emerging markets: Mohamed El-Erian

by Mohamed A. El-Erian
The calmer markets and the bounce in exchange rates at the end of last week make it tempting to declare the end of the summer turmoil in emerging economies.
Those positive developments, along with increasing evidence of investor differentiation, naturally give rise to hopes that we are experiencing a repeat of early 2016, when heightened concerns about China-driven market disturbances gave way to a comforting restoration of capital flows, higher asset prices and a far more supportive operating environment for individual emerging countries.
I share this hope and recognise the historical precedent. Yet there are four reasons to remain cautious.

One word that created the GFC shockwave is on everyone's lips again

By Stephen Bartholomeusz
11 September 2018 — 12:05am
In September 2008 the death throes of the 158-year-old US investment bank Lehman Bros triggered ever more desperate, and increasingly unconventional, responses from regulators and central banks. Critics described those policies as "kicking the can down the road". Today, a decade later, that poor old can, battered and misshapen, is still rolling.
The major central banks still have their unconventional monetary policies in place, with interest rates still historically low and their balance sheets still stuffed full of the bonds and mortgages they have acquired since the crisis.
Between them the US Fed, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan and the People’s Bank of China expanded their balance sheets via post-crisis asset purchases by around $US18 trillion ($25.3 trillion). Only the Fed has so far begun the process of normalising rates and shrinking its balance sheet.

Please explain: How is 'religious freedom' under threat?

11 September 2018 — 12:05am
In his first weeks in the job Prime Minister Scott Morrison has tried to distinguish himself by talking openly about his religious beliefs. The Herald welcomes Mr Morrison's positive expression of his religious faith which is shared by many of our readers.
Mr Morrison has waded into much murkier territory, however in an interview with the Herald on Saturday where he promised that he would take a "pro-active" role in promoting "religious freedom." He gave as examples making sure that children could "do Christmas plays" and "talk about Easter" at school.
Any parent knows that children do talk about Easter at school, especially Easter eggs.
Less flippantly, Mr Morrison is right if he is saying that state schools do not promote the observance of Christianity or any other religion. But there is a simple reason why they don't: Australia is home to parents with many different sets of beliefs and state schools must make all their children feel welcome.

'A problem for one is likely a problem for all': RBA sounds Australian debt warning

By Eryk Bagshaw
10 September 2018 — 7:30pm
Australian households and the financial system are over exposed to an economic shock with the country's debt levels rocketing to the top of global standings, the Reserve Bank has warned.
Amid fears that a trade war between China and the United States could puncture the global economic recovery, the central bank has told markets that it was "closely" monitoring Australia's elevated debt levels.
"The Australian banking system is potentially very exposed to a decline in credit quality of outstanding mortgages," said RBA assistant governor Michelle Bullock.

The social sciences: so essential we neglect them

By Ross Gittins
10 September 2018 — 12:01am
As I’m sure you’re only too well aware, today is the first day of the inaugural Social Sciences Week. Just as I’m sure you knew that someone somewhere in America declared a day last week to be Read a Book Day.
Why do people name days, weeks, months and even whole years after worthy causes? Perhaps because there are so many worthy causes, and they’re hoping to gain theirs a little more attention amid the tumult.
We just want to be sure our fellow citizens are aware of who we are and what wonderful things we do, the organisers tell you. And once they’ve got their higher profile, there just might be a message or two they’d like to get through to the government and keeper of the purse strings.

Scott Morrison’s cabinet full of political traitors

  • 8:23AM September 11, 2018
Stop and consider just how ridiculous the current situation in Canberra really is. And how unelectable the Coalition has become. We have a new Prime Minister who supported the previous PM and didn’t want the job for himself. Scott Morrison didn’t want Malcolm Turnbull to lose his job — he wanted to continue serving as his Treasurer.
The person who wanted the top job was Peter Dutton, but Newspoll revealed that only 6 per cent of Australians thought him best suited to lead the Liberal Party.
Yet Turnbull is gone and Morrison is in charge. Running the country when he didn’t really want to. When Morrison voted against the leadership spill and for the other guy who lost his job. How can Morrison even hope to convince voters he’s worth supporting when he didn’t want the job himself?

Voluntary super idea derided, but think it through

  • 12:00AM September 11, 2018
Former prime minister Paul Keating came out swinging last week after I wrote a column suggesting the idea of voluntary superannuation had so much going for it: higher wages, more choice, lower taxes, reduced financial parasitism and weakened vested interests.
Notable commentators Alan Kohler and Terry McCrann saw merit in the idea, which was also popular with our readers.
Keating, though, one of the architects of superannuation, said it would be a “national tragedy” if a system that had “transformed the Australian economy and was envied by the rest of the world” were “dismantled”. It certainly has transformed the living standards and job security of the financial services sector, which is bigger in Australia as a share of the economy than any other developed country. Who could doubt that it is envied by anyone working in financial services — what could be better than being able to “manage” 9.5 per cent of the people’s earnings, especially those whose low financial literacy guarantees they pay little attention to why you charge them?
  • Updated Sep 10 2018 at 6:26 PM

What the RBA didn't tell us about household debt: how we reduce it

The RBA's Michele Bullock has once again reassured us that the giddy tower of household debt we have built over the past 30 years is not about to collapse. What she fails to mention is how we get out of this situation before our economic luck finally runs out.
Mortgages now dominate the balance sheets of the banking system, at 60 per cent housing to 40 per cent business credit. In the early 1990s that ratio was reversed. The household debt-to-income ratios has nearly tripled to stand at 190 per cent.
As Ms Bullock tells us, this level if indebtedness is not a threat to our financial stability given economic growth is running at six-year highs and unemployment at six-year lows.
  • Updated Sep 11 2018 at 11:45 PM

Sexual harassment at work doubles, AHRC survey finds

The number of women who say they were sexually harassed at work has increased significantly in the wake of the #MeToo movement, rising from 21 per cent to 39 per cent in the past six years.
The alarming figures are revealed in an Australian Human Rights Commission survey to be released on Wednesday, which found the worst industry by far for sexual harassment was media, with four out of five employees in the sector saying they were harassed.
Two in five women and more than one in four men told the survey between April and June that they had been sexually harassed at work in the past five years.

The great delusion of middle age

By Ross Gittins
12 September 2018 — 12:00am
There are things oldies tell young people that the youngsters should believe, and things they shouldn’t. One thing I wouldn’t believe is the confident predictions about the huge number of different jobs and careers they’re likely to have.
One thing I would believe is that eligibility for the age pension is likely to have risen to 70 by the time they get there, whatever Prime Minister Scott Morrison says about it being off the table.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard adults – usually teachers - assuring school kids they’ll end up having 17 changes in employer across five different careers.

Explainer: What is the 'religious freedom' debate about, and why are we having it?

By Michael Koziol
11 September 2018 — 5:07pm
One of the loudest voices calling for better protection of religious freedoms in recent years has been the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But what exactly is religious freedom, and why are we having this debate now?

Who follows what religion in Australia?

Christianity remains the dominant religious group in Australia, with just over half of all Australians identifying as some form of Christian in the 2016 census. The number of those who have "no religion", however, has grown in recent years, reaching 30.1 per cent in 2016 – eclipsing the number of Catholics for the first time. The census showed 2.6 per cent of Australians identified as Muslim.

How did our freedom to practise a religion become an issue?

During the 2017 debate about same-sex marriage, some religious leaders, politicians, commentators and interest groups raised concerns that allowing same-sex marriage would limit people's ability to practise their religion freely – when same-sex marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs. They asked whether churches would be compelled to lease facilities for same-sex weddings, for instance, or whether schools could still teach the traditional definition of marriage.

We need to wrest back control over the internet

By Nicholas Stuart
11 September 2018 — 10:00pm
 “I can’t believe what we were thinking.” The senior government staffer shook his head. “How we could have been so deluded to actually believe Peter Dutton was the answer; that he could somehow have appealed to voters.” His words trail off into nothingness . . .
The challenge itself was, of course, all Malcolm Turnbull’s own work. If he hadn’t charged into the Liberal party room meeting and fanned the embers of revolt into flame by demanding everyone vote to support him, he’d still be PM today. But funny things happen when small groups of people get together. Locked together in the febrile atmosphere of Parliament House, groups of normally sane people stop listening to logic. They become trapped in alternate realities of their own creation.
As electorates have grown bigger, politicians have become even more insulated from the public, but it’s not just them. The very skills that first allowed communities to grow around the campfire are now dividing us.

Four reasons why it's time for a reality check on Aussie stocks

By Matthew Burgess & Tim Smith
12 September 2018 — 10:30am
What will it take for market experts to come back to reality?
Profits fell short of estimates at almost half of the firms that reported full-year earnings last month, everyone from banks to chicken farmers say they're getting squeezed by rising costs and a government shake-up is likely. Yet analysts have barely trimmed earnings projections and even raised their 1-year estimates for the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index by over 1 percentage point since the start of August.
"Consensus earnings forecasts for the next two years are probably too high," said Matthew Ross, a Melbourne-based equities strategist at Goldman Sachs. "Cost pressures are going to catch up and undo some of the better revenue environments."
Australian shares trade near the highest level in more than a decade even after an emerging-market rout and global trade friction sent the benchmark index tumbling 2.7 per cent in the last nine days.
  • Updated Sep 13 2018 at 8:17 AM

Sir Michael Hintze: Response to global financial crisis elevated populism

Sir Michael Hintze is hyper-aware of how the policy response to the global financial crisis has shaped the world today. The trillions of dollars of monetary stimulus, delivered via quantitative easing, depressed interest rates and elevated the value of shares and property.
"I don't think anyone really understands how big an effect QE had on real asset prices and how it changed the dynamic within our society – not just in the US and Europe but everywhere," he says.
The Australian hedge fund manager is convinced the effects of QE have helped fuel populist politics. London-based Mr Hintze has said the next generation of Brits will be better off after Brexit, and donated to the Leave campaign, although the Conservative party supporter did not actively advocate for the Leave vote during the referendum.

Hedge fund billionaire spells out America's worst nightmare

By Katia Porzecanski & Erik Schatzker
13 September 2018 — 9:31am
Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio effectively spelled out what doomsday looks like for the US on live television.
The founder of Bridgewater Associates predicted the US economy is about two years from a downturn, which will see the dollar plunge as the government prints money to fund a swelling deficit.
As the impact of President Donald Trump's tax cuts starts to fade about 18 months from now, the combination of rising interest rates and mounting costs from pension and healthcare obligations will put pressure on the budget, Dalio said in an interview on Wednesday on Bloomberg Television.

NDIS needs ‘systematic work’ to fix flaws, says Paul Fletcher

  • 12:00AM September 13, 2018
The nation’s $176 billion welfare system is financially sustainable and on track but new Social Ser­vices Minister Paul Fletcher will not say the same about the $22bn ­National Disability Insurance Scheme, which has been beset by rollout problems.
In a wide-ranging interview, the first since he took the job, Mr Fletcher told The Australian there was “systematic work being done across a whole range of fronts to address the issues” with the NDIS, as the scheme prepares to double from 180,000 participants in the next year and hit 470,000 clients at full scheme in 2020.
Mr Fletcher was asked directly if he thought the scheme was ­sustainable on current settings but declined, saying there had been “a lot of issues arising and there will continue to be issues arising”.
  • Updated Sep 13 2018 at 10:17 AM

Technocrats hit back: populism causes predate the GFC, say Bernanke, Paulson

Washington | The dysfunction and populist uprisings roiling democracies around the world cannot be sheeted home to the rescue of Wall Street banks a decade ago, say the three most important technocrats who confronted the crisis head on.
In a rare gathering of all three men in public - former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and ex-treasury secretaries Timothy Geithner and Hank Paulson - all admitted they could have done a better job explaining their actions to the public during the crisis.
But they firmly rejected the argument that the use of radical policies in the heat of the crisis - such as zero interest rates, quantitative easing and taxpayer-funded bailouts including the $US700 billion ($984 billion) troubled asset relief program - can account for today's political turmoil.
  • Sep 13 2018 at 3:00 PM

Labor election win to hurt high dividend stocks

The stock market's most popular dividend-paying stocks including the banks, miners and Telstra could have billions of dollars wiped off their valuations if Labor wins the next federal election as polls suggest.
A new report by Citigroup financial analysts finds that Labor's proposal to curtail the generosity of franking credits would reduce local investor demand for high-dividend shares and potentially cut the share price of the big banks by 5 to 10 per cent.
Dual-listed miners BHP and Rio Tinto may also suffer from a reduction in the valuation premium their shares trade at on the Australian Securities Exchange compared to the bourse in London, the analysts noted.
  • Sep 14 2018 at 9:45 AM

Labor is crushing house prices: Corelogic

The head of research at Australia's largest real estate data company believes Labor's proposals to eliminate negative gearing and lift capital gains tax by 50 per cent are partly responsible for the house price falls being recorded across the country.
"There's no doubt Labor's policies are adversely affecting housing demand right now as current and prospective investors fret about not being able to negatively gear and being subject to much higher capital gains tax," says CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless.
According to CoreLogic, Sydney home values have slumped 6 per cent since September 2017 while Melbourne prices have declined 4 per cent, which has been echoed in the national numbers. Sentiment is deteriorating further as folks factor in a higher probability of a Labor victory in light of recent Liberal Party turmoil.
  • Updated Sep 14 2018 at 12:00 AM

Australia escaped the worst but still feels shockwaves

What caused the global financial crisis that erupted with the collapse of Wall Street investment house Lehman Brothers a decade ago tomorrow? And how did Australia, a capital-importing and commodity-exporting economy, escape the worst of it better than just about any advanced nation?
While some were quick to proclaim that the crisis signified some collapse of neo-liberal capitalism, the causes of the crisis were more complicated. It centred on an America that was still feeling the boom and bust of its stock market internet boom, the shock of the Islamic terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Centre twin towers and the costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Amid these distractions, the biggest industrial revolution of all was building up in a China that, 30 years earlier, had started opening up its command economy to the market, if not democracy. By the mid-2000s, China's imports of steel-making iron ore were stoking the biggest resources boom in Australia's history. China's economic development was export led, even mercantilist, as it combined technology purloined from the West, a huge labour pool, suppressed domestic consumption and an undervalued exchange rate to become the factory to the world. As it saturated the giant US consumer market, it poured its domestic savings glut into the US financial system, particularly US Treasuries.
  • Updated Sep 13 2018 at 11:00 PM

So many people lost so much money: Andrew Pridham's GFC

by Andrew Pridham
Franklin D. Roosevelt said: "I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm."
In all situations there are winners and losers. Some are small winners, some big. Some are big losers, some small.
I was in New York in the North American summer of 2007 just as the crisis that would become the global financial crisis started to unfold. I recall the stifling August heat and the unforgettable smell of the Manhattan streets.

In a post-financial crisis world, is there a 'new normal'?

By Stephen Bartholomeusz
13 September 2018 — 3:00pm
A decade after the financial crisis there’s a continuing but unresolved debate about whether the low-rate and low-growth settings within the developed world reflect a prolonged cycle or structural change.
While it might appear an academic discussion, it’s one with significant real-world implications; one that will shape the future course of global interest rates, capital flows and exchange rates.
Essentially it revolves around whether the crisis either caused or coincided with structural changes in the developed world that have created a ‘’new normal’’ for their economies.

Australia 'moving in the wrong direction', says Frank Lowy

By Nick O'Malley
13 September 2018 — 10:51pm
Describing himself as a “boat person” Sir Frank Lowy has used the 15th annual address of the think tank he founded in his family’s name, the Lowy Institute, to call for the nation to reject the insularity that is sweeping western politics and embrace immigration, innovation and infrastructure.
“When I established the institute, I made it very clear that it would not be a platform for my own opinions,” he said last night in a speech introduced by the former foreign minister, Julie Bishop.
 “I have kept that commitment. Until now.”
  • Updated Sep 14 2018 at 11:00 PM

The source of the next financial crisis: you and I

Where the next crisis will come from is on Vimal Gor's mind. In fact, it's always on his mind.
"It's something I constantly think about," he tells AFR Weekend.
Gor is a bond fund manager and leads the fixed income team at Pendal Group, the outfit formerly known as BT Investment Management. Like all money managers, he is paid to worry on our behalf. And bond traders – they worry more than the rest.
But this week it's not just Gor doing the worrying. The business pages of newspapers around the world are full of reminiscences to mark 10 years since the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers. Naturally, that has also led to a crescendo of speculation about where and when the next crisis will hit.

‘Breaking the buck’ broke confidence in financial system

  • 12:00AM September 15, 2018
One of the things I remember most about September 15, 2008, and the frantic, fascinating days that followed, was trying to work out what “breaking the buck” meant.
It wasn’t something I had come across in nearly 40 years of finance reporting in Australia because it’s not a thing here. But in the US it’s a big deal.
It wasn’t actually the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on this day 10 years ago that caused the great bank run and then the Great Recession; it was the fact that it led to a big money market fund breaking the buck.

10 years after GFC, risks of new crisis on rise, say leaders

  • 12:00AM September 15, 2018
Senior bankers and finance industry leaders have warned that the risk of another financial crisis is rising, although it is unlikely to match the scale or intensity of the catastrophic Lehman Brothers collapse a decade ago.
Former Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ralph Norris echoed the view of legendary US investor Warren Buffett that there would be another crisis “sometime”.
“You’d have to say in the best of situations that cycles have a duration of 10-12 years — not many have lasted as long as 12 years and we’re now sitting on 10 years,” Mr Norris told The Weekend Aus­tralian.

Financial Services Royal Commission Issues.

  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 8:11 PM

Banking royal commission: The revolution in financial advice

The royal commission hearings into insurance starting Monday will no doubt provide even more scandal and drama than the return of Parliament under Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week.
The banks are now well used to playing their roles as the main villains of the piece, including during the last hearings into superannuation. What's less obvious is that underneath the theatrical performance directed by Kenneth Hayne, the revolution in financial advice as well as the banks' role in wealth management generally is already well under way.
To general public outrage, for example, the royal commission explored how most banks and financial advice businesses attempted to hold on to lucrative trailing commissions and conflicted business models long beyond what was reasonable or even moral. But the main players had been forced to accept the game was up even before their failings were made so embarrassingly evident on the stand.

Life insurance braces for Hayne grilling

By Ruth Williams & Adele Ferguson
10 September 2018 — 12:00am
Six years ago, Paul Chapman was an operator of  heavy machinery, working hard and earning a good living. One day while climbing off his grader on a road project near Alice Springs he felt an ominous “pop” in his left knee.
Falling backwards, he felt another “pop” in his right knee and dropped in a heap on the ground.
In excruciating pain, he needed urgent surgery on his knees and shoulder. Eight operations later, he struggles to walk even with sticks, crutches or a frame, and needs help dressing and showering.
10 September 2018

Talking of bullies … meet the insurers!

Posted by Julie Lambert
A Sydney doctor is demanding an investigation into insurance companies over alleged bullying of doctors and neglect of patients in workers compensation and traffic accident cases.
Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans is asking the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry to put the insurers’ practices under the spotlight.
He says the industry’s actions in short-changing customers are “wilful, unchecked and very similar to those of the recently revealed conduct of the banks”.
  • Updated Sep 10 2018 at 12:08 PM

Banking royal commission: Insurers' confession session does not bode well

It didn't require a team of actuaries for the insurance sector to know that its round of banking royal commission hearings was going to be brutal.
So the sight of senior counsel assisting Rowena Orr, QC, taking her feet on Monday morning must have sent an extra chill down the spine of the executives due to give evidence.
But Orr didn't even need to work too hard to deliver the first blow to the insurers, as she kicked the hearings off.
  • Sep 10 2018 at 1:03 PM

Banking royal commission: Clearview targeted poor people with low quality products

Clearview deliberately targeted customers from lower socio-economic backgrounds with more expensive policies that included less cover than those it would sell more affluent customers, the Hayne royal commission has heard.
Counsel assisting Rowena Orr QC returned to Melbourne's Commonwealth Courts building on Monday to lead the questioning of life insurers starting with Clearview and an interrogation of its chief risk officer Gregory Martin.
The company abandoned a strategy of targeting poorer people only after it became clear that the regulator would begin clamping down on the segment which had become "saturated".
  • Updated Sep 12 2018 at 7:23 AM

Time for life insurance to get rid of the filth

As soon as commissioner Kenneth Hayne decided to investigate life insurance he should have ordered a pair of gumboots for counsel assisting Rowena Orr, QC, to protect her from the disgusting mess inside the Augean stables.
The filth has been piling up for decades. The ugly situation is a result of a combination of factors unique to Australia.
The industry finds itself friendless and horribly exposed by the Hayne inquiry because of commission-based incentives that created a misalignment between the interests of consumers and the people selling the policies.
The commissions were happily underwritten by life insurers and reinsurers who were in on the "joke" being played on consumers.

Sorry, not so sorry: how life insurers really roll

By Adele Ferguson
14 September 2018 — 12:00am
Sorry, not so sorry – or maybe not sorry at all.
After hearing a shocking case of a woman with breast cancer whose claim was repeatedly knocked back due to an outdated medical definition and some cute interpretations on what constituted “radical breast surgery”, CommInsure boss Helen Troup accepted her business was wrong to have rejected the claim but contested a finding by the Financial Ombudsman Service that it was a systemic issue.
The Commonwealth Bank-owned insurer updated the last year definition but the damning evidence at the commission wasn’t enough to get Troup to agree to review breast cancer claims knocked back or to backdate the definition as it had done when it was sprung using outdated heart attacks and rheumatoid arthritis.
Nor could she admit that deploying so many outdated medical definitions constituted a systemic issue.

'You have a case to answer': Treasurer fires warning shot at banking regulators

By Eryk Bagshaw & David Crowe
14 September 2018 — 11:45pm
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned federal regulators to lift their game on policing the financial services industry, warning the authorities have a “case to answer” over scandals exposed by the banking royal commission.
Mr Frydenberg said the investigation into the banks would set up an "opportunity for significant reform" across the sector, as he signalled he would extend the deadline for the final report if commissioner Kenneth Hayne needed more time.
The remarks show the Treasurer, who took the job less than three weeks ago amid the Liberal Party leadership crisis, expects early action from the regulators on the government's changes to laws on banking remuneration and supervision, in the event the royal commission's final report is not handed down until after the next election.

Blunders leave life insurers on critical list

  • 12:00AM September 15, 2018
The life insurance industry may be forced to dramatically reduce benefits, ratchet up premiums or force exclusions on customers, as efforts to convince politicians to allow the sector to target workplace rehabilitation for new revenue streams look set to fail.
The industry’s efforts to overhaul laws to allow life insurers to cover medical costs in the workplace for prevention and rehabilitation of illnesses — which have been labelled as a concerning expansion in responsibility by doctors, lawyers and health insurers — are unravelling following a series of shocking revelations at the royal commission in recent days.
Over a gruelling week of hearings at Melbourne’s Federal Court, the royal commission heard Australia’s largest insurer, TAL, paid private investigators to stalk a woman with depression and anxiety as it fought her claim over an eight-year period and that the company bullied her with unnecessary and vexatious requests under threat of cancelling her policy. TAL separately tried to cancel the policy of a woman with cervical cancer by claiming she had an unrelated “history of depression”.

Royal commission prompts Australians to switch super funds

By Nina Hendy
16 September 2018 — 12:00am
The banking royal commission is cultivating a superannuation switching culture that could have a major impact on super fund memberships in the coming year, new research reveals.
More than one in three Australians are more likely to review their superannuation fund in the next 12 months as a result of the royal commission.
Young Australians appear to be the most rattled of all, with 42 per cent of 18-24 year-olds wanting to switch funds – higher than any other age group.

National Budget Issues.

Morrison's surplus secret: bracket creep kills the tax cuts

By Ross Gittins
15 September 2018 — 12:05am
The mystery revealed. Consider this: how does the Morrison government cut income and company taxes and avoid big cuts in government spending, but still project ever-rising budget surpluses and ever-falling net public debt over the next decade?
With publication of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s report on the May budget’s medium-term projections, we now know. Short answer: by assuming loads more bracket creep between now and then.
You may remember that, at the time of budget, I was highly critical of the rosy forecasts and assumptions used in the budget’s “forward estimates” from 2018-19 to 2021-22, and then in its “medium-term projections” out for a further seven years to 2028-29.

Health Budget Issues.

Yes we're living longer, but there's a chronic catch...

By Lisa Murphy
10 September 2018 — 11:12pm
The good news is Australians are living longer than ever before. The bad news is we are living with increasing disability and decreased quality of life due to chronic disease.
In fact, we could be at the cusp of handing down a lower life expectancy to the next generation if nothing is done to halt the rapidly increasing chronic disease rates.
Half of all Australians have at least one chronic disease. A quarter have two or more. Nine in 10 deaths in Australia have chronic disease as an underlying cause.

Government taking control of foreign doctor placements

  • 12:00AM September 11, 2018
A new health agency will be established with the power to block the use of overseas-trained doctors as the federal government seeks more direct and immediate control over workforce distribution.
Under an unreleased cabinet proposal ‘‘Right Worker, Right Location’’, which was only partly referenced in the budget, employers wanting an overseas-trained doctor to fill a vacancy will need an endorsement from the agency.
This represents a fundamental shift in the management of ­overseas-trained doctors and so-called districts of workforce shortage, where Department of Health mapping has long been used to determine visa eligibility. It will give the agency control over specific job proposals and potentially force employers, such as major corporate clinics, to take additional steps to recruit local doctors.

Health agreement hopes dashed as states face $200m clawback

  • 12:00AM September 12, 2018
A proposed $200 million revision of public hospital funding for services already delivered by the states has dashed hopes of a new national health agreement being signed before the federal election.
After a previous dispute over the reconciliation process, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt promised clear timeframes and a dispute resolution process, while the states hoped the appointment of a new administrator would also help. However, the new administrator of the National Health Funding Pool, Michael Lambert, and the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority now want to ­account for an unexpected increase in complex hospital cases in 2016-17 by “back-casting” their calculated funding changes.
They are preparing advice for federal Treasurer Scott Frydenberg that threatens to not only ­reduce federal funding by a further $203,110,768 in 2016-17, but impact on the states’ subsequent health budgets.

Bid to strip rort doctors’ cars, houses

  • 12:00AM September 12, 2018
Doctors suspected of rorting Medicare could lose their luxury houses and cars, under a dramatic escalation of compliance efforts tipped to raise tens of millions of dollars a year for the federal government.
The Department of Health has asked the Australian Federal Police whether the Proceeds of Crime Act — commonly used to restrain the assets of drug dealers, money launderers and fraudsters — could help it to deal with errant doctors.
The department has often struggled to recoup more than 30 per cent of the Medicare ­rebates it could prove were misused but was recently given new powers, including the ability to act against doctors who refused to co-operate. Utilising the Proceeds of Crime Act would be likely to ­reverse the onus of proof, and ­require the doctor to argue they did not deserve to have their ­assets restrained or seized to repay Medicare rebates.

Device Technologies’ Michael Trevaskis: Healthcare needs more than cost cuts

  • 12:00AM September 12, 2018
The head of Australia’s largest private medical device company has called for reforms to go beyond cost-cutting measures to support a sustainable long-term vision of the nation’s healthcare system.
Michael Trevaskis, chief executive of Sydney-based Device Technologies, has argued that a focus simply on cost-cutting did not address the longer-term sustainability of the system.
“Anyone can cut costs and improve their bottom line for one year, but if you want a sustainable company, or sustainable healthcare system, cutting costs is not the place to start,” he said.

Screening detection reduces cancer deaths

  • 12:00AM September 14, 2018
Breast, cervical and bowel cancers detected through national screening programs are less likely to cause death than cancers diagnosed in people who have never been screened.
According to a landmark analysis from the Australian ­Institute of Health and Welfare today, 5 per cent of cervical cancer, 11 per cent of bowel cancer, and 44 per cent of breast cancer cases in the decade to 2012 were diagnosed as a result of screening.
Women whose cervical cancer was detected through a screen had an 87 per cent lower risk of dying than those who had never had a Pap test.

Young disabled people left stranded in aged care

  • Exclusive
  • 12:00AM September 15, 2018
A key mission of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme to rescue young people stuck in nursing homes is failing, with 173 being rejected from the program and fewer than 1 per cent being granted housing support.
The number of people denied access has jumped to 173 from 118 in just three months although the National Disability Insurance Agency refuses to explain why most of these did not meet the disability requirements of the scheme. Data released by the agency to the Senate shows 2749 people under the age of 65 who have been left in residential aged care have received an NDIS plan since 2013, but just 23 of these have been given extra funding under Specialist Disability Accommo­dation allowances.

PM calls royal commission into aged care after inexcusable 'failures'

By Nicole Hasham
15 September 2018 — 11:00pm
The Morrison government will establish a royal commission into Australia’s aged-care sector following a string of horrific revelations of elderly abuse and neglect that have shattered public faith in the system.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce the dramatic measure on Sunday, as figures show complaints about the sector have skyrocketed and authorities have forcibly closed one aged-care service a month since a crackdown triggered by the Oakden nursing home scandal.
“Our aged-care sector in Australia provides some of the best care in the world ... However incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

International Issues.

All the President’s men are suspects in Donald Trump’s White House

  • By Toby Harnden
  • The Times
  • 11:03AM September 9, 2018
Woodward and Bernstein are on the American president’s tail. Washington is in turmoil. The spectre of impeachment looms. A paranoid commander-in-chief is hunting for an anonymous senior official threatening to bring him down.
It is 45 years since the height of the Watergate scandal. “Deep Throat” and President Richard Nixon are both dead. But Donald Trump could be forgiven for wondering how some of the central characters came back and his presidency turned into a modern-day version of the film All the President’s Men.
The two scrappy reporters who dogged Nixon and eventually brought him down before penning the book that became the movie are old men now. Rather than being outsiders swimming against the tide, they are establishment figures leading a stampede of political insiders hoping to oust Trump.

Time changes view of 9/11

There are those who remember vividly the horror of watching the towers fall on live TV. And there’s a new generation who see it differently.
September 8, 2018
New York firefighter Joe Pfeifer looked up on the morning of September 11, 2001, to see the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, fly over him and into the north tower of the World Trade Centre.
He was the first fire chief to enter the stricken building that day, setting up a command post on the ground floor of the burning tower. He was the one who ordered the first firemen on the scene, including his brother Kevin, to climb the stairs to rescue those trapped — a climb from which most never returned.
And now Pfeifer has become the last fire chief who was at the twin towers on 9/11 to retire, leaving his story to the pages of history.
  • Updated Sep 7 2018 at 8:55 PM

Erupting trade storm rattles global markets

Australian shares have been savaged in a sweeping global sell-off caused by the intensifying trade war between the US and China, which appeared headed for a fresh escalation , and signs that losses in emerging markets are struggling to remain contained.
Fund managers concluded that the pain for markets could endure until the American mid-term elections in the first week of November, giving Donald Trump added motivation to retain his grip on power by appealing to a loyal base of voters who support the president's high-stakes economic war with trading partner China.
The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed in the red for a seventh-straight session, the longest losing streak since early 2016, to 6143.8 points on a fall of 0.3 per cent in a volatile day for Asia's markets which recovered from deeper losses. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down around 1 per cent as Japan was said to be the next target of the Trump administration's trade hawks.
  • Updated Sep 8 2018 at 5:10 AM

Donald Trump ready to tax $US267b more worth of Chinese goods

by Shannon Pettypiece
Washington | President Donald Trump said he's ready to impose tariffs on an additional $US267 billion ($376 billion) in Chinese goods on short notice, on top of a proposed $US200 billion that his administration is putting the final touches on.
The implementation of tariffs on $US200 billion of products from China "will take place very soon depending on what happens", Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Friday. "I hate to do this, but behind that there is another $US267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want."
US stocks erased gains after Trump's remarks, with the S&P 500 Index falling by 0.3 per cent to the lowest in two weeks by midday in New York.
  • Updated Sep 9 2018 at 11:45 PM

Donald Trump doubles down on trade threat to China

Donald Trump  has doubled down on his widening trade war, threatening tariffs on effectively every item China exports to the US, just 60 days out from mid-term elections that polls indicate would leave him facing a hostile Congress.
The dramatic move is set to roil already jittery financial markets on Monday – the Australian dollar fell to a 2½-year low of US70.99¢  over the weekend – given the president's move implies there would be imposts on more than a fifth of imports into the US. China has promised to retaliate.
The White House is understood to be finalising duties on $US200 billion ($281 billion) worth of goods, potentially in coming days. Those would add to $US50 billion in measures already in place.

We really do need to talk about China

9 September 2018 — 8:00pm
China will "not threaten anyone" or seek any sphere of influence according to ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye.
"China's a sovereign country. They make decisions about what happens there. We make decisions about what happens here."
Scott Morrison's response to the news that Beijing's cybersecurity regulator has blocked access to the ABC's website within China was studiously unruffled, the Prime Minister no doubt mindful that the last thing he needs is the appearance of turmoil on more fronts. Given the Coalition's recent struggles with the state broadcaster, a more robust defence of the ABC's work would have been an odd look, and Mr Morrison managed to avoid the kind of language that so incensed the People's Republic when Malcolm Turnbull paraphrased Chairman Mao last year.

Sweden heads for political deadlock as Sweden Democrats surge

By Johan Sennero and Helena Soderpalm
10 September 2018 — 8:57am
Stockholm: Sweden is heading for a hung parliament after an election that saw the popularity of the nationalist Sweden Democrats surge, as one of Europe's most liberal nations turns right amid fears over immigration.
Far-right parties have made spectacular gains throughout Europe in recent years amid growing anxiety over national identity and the effects of globalisation and immigration following armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.
In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 - the most in Europe in relation to the country's population of 10 million - has polarised voters and fractured the political consensus.
  • Sep 11 2018 at 10:01 AM

'Flat earth' Trump thought tariffs could just be reversed if they didn't work

Washington| Donald Trump said he was prepared to do a full volte-face on his trade tariffs if they turned out to be a bad bet that smashed the economy and damaged US employment.
The president made the claim to his former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is portrayed in Bob Woodward's new book fighting a failed 14-month campaign to prevent a trade war.
Time and time again, Fear: Trump in the White House shows Mr Cohn throwing hard facts, analysis and first-year economics arguments against the President and his chief trade advisor Peter Navarro, dubbed by another advisor as a member of the "Flat Earth Society on trade deficits, like the president himself".

Kim Jong-un asks Trump for another meeting in new letter

Updated 11 September 2018 — 8:21am first published at 5:16am
Washington: US President Donald Trump received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about scheduling a second meeting between the two leaders, and the White House wants it to take place, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday.
Sanders described the letter as "warm" and "positive." She told reporters that a military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday was a sign of progress in talks on denuclearisation because it did not feature any long-range nuclear missiles.
US President Donald Trump received a letter from North Korea's Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.

'Dead to us': Trump will ban, arrest International Criminal Court judges

By Matthew Knott
11 September 2018 — 10:09am
New York: Donald Trump's top national security adviser has launched a bellicose attack on the International Criminal Court, describing it as "fundamentally illegitimate" and "outright dangerous" in a speech that has alarmed human rights groups.
John Bolton threatened to prosecute judges from the International Criminal Court (ICC) or ban them from entering the United States if the organisation pursues an investigation into the conduct of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, in Washington D.C on Monday US time.

Sweden's centre holds, for now. But who forms government?

By Nick Miller
10 September 2018 — 6:30pm
London: In Sweden the centre has held. But it’s not entirely clear yet which centre - or how strong is its grip.
The director of the European Union Centre at RMIT, Bruce Wilson says that while the anti-immigrant party linked to neo-Nazis has performed strongly in the Swedish elections, he can't see the "Sweden Democrats exercising a great deal of new influ
And a party founded by neo-Nazis is a whisker from power, a potential kingmaker in parliament if the centrists can bring themselves to deal with it.

China busy buying friends but losing new Cold War with US

  • By Minxin Pei
  • 12:00AM September 11, 2018
When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the Communist Party of China became obsessed with understanding why. The government think tanks entrusted with this task heaped plenty of blame on Mikhail Gorbachev, the reformist who was not ruthless enough to hold the Soviet Union together. But Chinese leaders also highlighted other important factors, not all of which China’s leaders seem to be heeding today.
The CPC has taken to heart the first lesson: strong economic performance is essential to political legitimacy. And the CPC’s single-minded focus on GDP growth over the last few decades has delivered an economic miracle, with nominal per capita income skyrocketing from $US333 in 1991 to $US7329 last year. This is the single most important reason why the CPC has retained power.
But overseeing a faltering economy was hardly the only mistake Soviet leaders made. They were also drawn into a costly and unwinnable arms race with the US, and fell victim to imperial overreach, throwing money and resources at regimes with little strategic value and long track records of chronic economic mismanagement. As China enters a new “cold war” with the US, the CPC seems to be at risk of repeating the same catastrophic blunders.
  • Sep 11 2018 at 10:50 AM

America, China and the route to all-out trade war

by Gideon Rachman
"Trade wars are good, and easy to win." Donald Trump's breezy tweet of last March may go down in history as the economic equivalent of a prediction in Britain, in August 1914, that the first world war would "all be over by Christmas".
The US president's initial tariffs, imposed on $US50b worth of Chinese exports in June, did not bring swift victory. Instead, they were met with Chinese retaliation. Now Mr Trump is preparing to impose tariffs on a further $US200b worth of imports from China, which will probably be met, once again, by a tit-for-tat response from Beijing. The world is on the very brink of a major trade war between the US and China, and it is unlikely to end quickly.
To date, markets have been oddly relaxed about all this. Perhaps they have assumed that a last-minute deal would be reached between the US and China? But that is far too complacent. Instead, there are political, economic and strategic reasons that are pushing the two sides towards prolonged confrontation.

Republican party’s identity swept away by Donald Trump

  • By Gerald F. Seib
  • 11:11AM September 11, 2018
In their younger years, the three men all were genuine war heroes, stricken in battle in Europe, the Pacific Ocean and Vietnam.
In time, they entered politics and served in Congress. Over the course of three decades, they ran for president a combined eight times. All three won their party’s nomination, and one was elected president. They were involved in the most crucial decisions of recent times, and knew how to bridge partisan divides along the way.
Together, they defined an era of the modern Republican party — an era that is drawing to a close as all three recede from the public scene. They are leaving behind a party far different from the one they shaped, and a capital sorely missing their ability to forge bipartisan compromises.

The NYT's 'Anonymous' is hiding in plain sight

By Thomas Friedman
12 September 2018 — 4:12am
More and more, I wonder if the disgruntled senior Trump administration official who wrote the anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times was actually representing a group — like a Murder on the Orient Express plotline where every senior Trump adviser was in on it.
Why? Because the article so perfectly captured the devil's bargain they've all struck with this president: Donald Trump is an amoral, dishonest and disturbed person, a man totally unfit to be president, but, as the anonymous author self-servingly wrote: "There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more."
President Trump has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times.
  • Updated Sep 13 2018 at 7:56 AM

Trump officials dangle fresh hope on China tariffs as new imposts loom

Washington | Trump administration trade negotiators are seeking a fresh round of talks with Chinese counterparts to head off the threat of tariffs being slapped on another $US200 billion ($279 billion) in goods.
Prices across trade-sensitive sectors and firms rallied sharply on Wednesday amid a report that top US officials led by Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin have sent an invitation to China's Vice Premier Liu He, proposing another meeting, either in Washington or Beijing. Analysts speculate that Mr Mnuchin is looking for a genuine exit to the dispute.
The Australia dollar rallied almost three quarters of a cent to US71.10¢.
Signs of fresh efforts to resolve the deepening trade dispute come amid an ever growing chorus of complaints from businesses across both economies. They say the dispute is affecting confidence, disrupting supply chains, that it will drive up costs for consumers and threatens to spill over into a general drag on global trade.
  • Updated Sep 12 2018 at 11:00 PM

Prometheus bound: How China's power is constrained

The more Australia positions itself as if there is only a binary choice between US or Chinese hegemonic influence in the region, the more likely conflict becomes.
The first step in a foreign policy reappraisal is to recognise that the World Order has changed and there is no returning to the status quo. 
The New Order is of course still evolving, but the old one has gone.
It is also important to understand the New Order is not to our liking: it is one in which the US is less engaged in providing leadership and where authoritarian states are more influential.
  • Updated Sep 15 2018 at 4:42 AM

Donald Trump directs advisers to prepare $US200b worth of China tariffs

by Jennifer Jacobs, Saleha Mohsin and Jenny Leonard
Washington | President Donald Trump instructed aides on Friday (AEST) to proceed with tariffs on about $US200 billion ($279 billion) more in Chinese products despite his Treasury secretary's attempt to restart talks with Beijing to resolve the trade war, according to four people familiar with the matter.
But an announcement of the new round of tariffs has been delayed as the administration considers revisions based on concerns raised in public comments, the people said. Trump may be running low on products he can target without significant backlash from major US companies and consumers, two of the people said.
The threat of fresh tariffs roiled financial markets. US stocks erased gains, dropping to session lows, while the US dollar strengthened versus the Chinese offshore yuan by the most in two weeks. Technology shares led declines, with Apple falling as much as 1.7 per cent. The iPhone maker last week warned that new tariffs could increase the cost of its products.

Apple's new phones shine, but Trump could take gloss off its future

By John McDuling
15 September 2018 — 12:15am
About 1,000 guests assembled at Apple's sprawling, white marble and glass laden campus this week for the trillion-dollar company's annual iPhone ritual.
Celebrities such as the supermodel Naomi Campbell and Mad Men star Jon Hamm were among the attendees, alongside hordes of international journalists (including Fairfax Media).
Around this time each year, Apple releases updated versions of the iconic handset that helped it become history's most valuable corporation - and a stock beloved by many investors, including in Australia. (Sydney's Magellan Financial Group, for example, owns shares worth about $US2.37 billion ($3.29 billion) in the company, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.)

Former Trump campaign manager pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate with Mueller

15 September 2018 — 12:29am
Washington: Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, prosecutors said on Friday, a dramatic turnaround that deals the US President a political setback.
After months of refusing to assist special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference and possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Moscow, Manafort finally took a plea deal and agreed to cooperate in return for reduced charges.
It was not immediately clear what information about Trump that Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant who ran the campaign as it took off in mid-2016, could offer prosecutors.

Trump to pull trigger on $280bn of new China tariffs

  • By Bob Davis and Jacob M. Schlesinger
  • Dow Jones
  • 5:59AM September 16, 2018
President Trump plans to announce new tariffs of about $US200 billion ($280bn) on Chinese imports, according to people familiar with the matter, even as his aides prepare for a high-level meeting with Chinese officials to try to quell trade tensions.
The tariff level will likely be set at about 10 per cent, these people said, well below the 25 per cent announced when the administration first said earlier this year it was considering this round of tariffs.
The expected reduction is intended to lower the impact on American consumers heading into the year-end holiday shopping season and ahead of mid-term elections, as the Republican Party tries to keep control of Congress. Mr Trump is expected to hold open the option of raising the tariffs again to further ratchet up pressure on Beijing.
I look forward to comments on all this!

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