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."

Friday, November 30, 2018

I Think This Is Pretty Big News And Is A Pointer To Things To Come.

This appeared last week:

Apple in Talks to Give Veterans Access to Electronic Medical Records

Under plans being discussed, Apple would create software allowing veterans to transfer health records to iPhones

By Ben Kesling and Tripp Mickle
Apple Inc. AAPL -0.05% is in discussions with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide portable electronic health records to military veterans, a partnership that would simplify patients’ hospital visits and allow the technology giant to tap millions of new customers, according to people familiar with the effort and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Under the plans being discussed, Apple would create special software tools allowing the VA’s estimated nine million veterans currently enrolled in the system to transfer their health records to iPhones and provide engineering support to the agency. Apple in January announced its foray into the electronic-records field with a feature that allows patients to import and store medical information.
Top VA officials, as well as associates from President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, discussed the project last year in a series of emails reviewed by the Journal. The emails show how the Trump administration wrestled early on with the project’s goals.
An Apple spokeswoman said the company has nothing to announce.
The partnership would be a major boost for Apple at a time when technology companies are looking to elbow into the $3.2 trillion health-care market. Alphabet Inc. recently hired prominent hospital-system executive David Feinberg to oversee its health initiatives, and Amazon.com Inc. has joined with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to form a company that reduces its workers’ health costs.
Tech companies for years have sought, without much success, to bring together disparate troves of medical information and remove technological barriers to giving patients, providers and researchers access to health records. That access, health specialists have said, could improve care and speed the development of cost-effective treatments, but the effort faces technological hurdles and privacy concerns.
The VA partnership has the potential to accelerate Apple’s efforts to overcome past challenges by allowing it to tap into one of the nation’s largest, concentrated patient populations, health-care experts said. To date, the company has had to take a more patchwork approach, signing agreements with hospital networks and relying on them to encourage patients to import their medical records to iPhones using the new “Health Records” feature.
The company’s ultimate goal is to enable patients to import their records and share them with health-related apps, which would use the data to provide services like automated prescription refills, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. Apple would take a 15% to 30% cut of those subscriptions as it does with most apps offered through its App Store.
“With nine million users, they will have the largest mobile platform for storing records on personal phones,” said Iltifat Husain, assistant professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine and co-founder of Impathiq, a health-data analytics company.
More here:
This seems to me to be a way for the person to be empowered with their health data on their phone and for them to decide who they share it with and who they accept new information from.
Sound good as an option to me.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

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

November 29, 2018 Edition.
By the time you read this we will have had lots more news on the US / China Trade Wars and where exactly Brexit is heading. The G20 meeting on the weekend will be very interesting indeed!
Additionally in OZ we will know the results of the Victorian State Election which may have all sorts of fall out – depending how it turns out.
The result was an astonishing large scale win for Labor. It is now on for one and all in the lead up to the Federal Election next year.
You have to assume Labor will win in a landslide….and with Julia Banks jumping ship earlier this week the implosion of the Government continues alarmingly. If the Government actually lasts the two sitting weeks it will be a near miracle.

Major Issues.

  • Nov 18 2018 at 1:58 PM

Melbourne clearance rate falls below Sydney as buyers hide awaiting changes

Falling housing prices, worries about potential changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, and tightening bank credit drove another very weak auction market this week.
The final national clearance rate is expected to fall below 45 per cent for the third straight week.
As auction numbers pick up in the build up towards Christmas, Melbourne delivered the weakest result with a 43.5 per cent preliminary clearance rate with over 1400 auctions scheduled, according to CoreLogic, down from a final figure of 46.2 per cent last weekend.

Why managing money in retirement requires a different approach

Darren Beesley

Sydney, Australia
15 Nov, 2018
In the past, most Australians have been in accumulation phase when it comes to their money, with the primary objective of building wealth. But that changed in 2011 when the first of 5.6 million Australian baby boomers hit retirement age. Every day another 800 baby boomers retire, and the result is that a large proportion of the population now has significantly different investment needs than they did in the past.
Unfortunately, most funds are not sensitive to the unique needs and challenges of post-retirement. They are offered indiscriminately to all investors (both accumulators and retirees) and simply focus on a total return outcome and attempting to beat their respective benchmarks.
Amid a suite of investment strategies and tactics, we believe there are seven key factors that are vital to shifting an investment approach’s focus from accumulation to one more suitable for retirees.

Morrison’s idea to shift embassy to Jerusalem has no upside

  • 12:00AM November 17, 2018
The fiasco over the Jerusalem ­embassy now looms as a diabolical dilemma for Scott Morrison risking a lose-lose outcome. This is a deepening embarrassment for Australia, a threat to the Prime Minister’s standing, an unnecessary problem for the new trade partnership with Indonesia and a failure in terms of foreign policy priorities.
This issue should never have arisen. There is no national interest for Australia in the prospect of moving the embassy in Israel. The blame lies entirely with Australian ineptitude. There is wide recognition in the government that raising this as a review during the Wentworth by-election has been a monumental blunder.
Morrison should have sorted the issue before the present summit season in Asia. The stakes have escalated alarmingly because he has no good options left. The essence of the dilemma Morrison faces is a conflict between his authority as Prime Minister and Australia’s national interest.

Morrison walks fine line between powers and does a fine job

Australia to partner with US and PNG on naval base

  • 12:00AM November 17, 2018
Shinzo Abe’s historic visit to Darwin was freighted equally with symbolism and substance.
The only Australian city bombed by the Japanese in World War II also saw a serious move in the geo-strategic competition ­between China on one side, and the US, Japan and Australia on the other.
Abe and Australia’s Scott Morrison finalised a memorandum of understanding on a joint infrastructure venture.
This will facilitate work to provide infrastructure through aid and concessional finance in Third World countries, but is overwhelmingly directed at the South Pacific.

Morrison backs Trump’s trade plays

  • 12:00AM November 13, 2018
Scott Morrison has mounted the strongest defence of any allied leader so far of Donald Trump’s trade policies, denying that Washington has turned protectionist because of its imposition of tariffs on China.
“The US wants to see greater trade and more open trade and they want to see it on better terms,” the Prime Minister told The Australian in an interview in his Sydney office. “It is yet to be established that the US is pursuing a protectionist policy.”
Mr Morrison said he did not agree with the protectionist ­interpretation of the administration’s trade policy.

There can be no doubt, political standards are slipping

  • 12:00AM November 17, 2018
Why is politics so bad? That’s the most common question I get asked by those who aren’t forced to pay attention to the ­sliding standards as part of their day job.
There isn’t a simple answer. In fact, some astute observers argue that the decline is more perception than reality. My colleague at Griffith University, and one of Australia’s leading political scientists, Patrick Weller, argues that we see the politics of the past through rose-coloured glasses. He says the same divisions and debates dogged the governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
There were leadership rumblings, claims of poor policy design, backflips and questions about the quality of the MPs. A search through newspaper clippings from the time supports his contention. But Weller agrees that the proliferation of media interest in politics and the reactive nature of the 24-hour news cycle have created the impression that Canberra is less functional than it once was.

The policy chaos eroding our faith in democracy

In the first of a five-part series, The Future Fix, we examine how knee-jerk politics is fuelling mistrust in our political system – but also sparking a search for fresh solutions.
By Jess Irvine
19 November 2018
Peter Shergold is worried. During the final years of the Howard government, Shergold sat at the apex of Australia’s federal bureaucracyas secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Recently, as president of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), he surveyed more than 800 IPAA conference attendees, mostly current and former public servants.
“I was shocked by the results,” Shergold said recently. Australia’s public servants were suffering a “crisis of confidence”.

Inside Apple's humans-first, tech second news platform

By John McDuling
19 November 2018 — 12:01am
Hidden in plain sight in the heart of Australia's biggest city is one of the nation’s most influential, yet little known, news operations.
On one of the lower floors of a skyscraper adjacent to Sydney's Martin Place, a small team of editors sift through story pitches from some of the country’s best known publications, and decide whether to promote them to millions of potential readers.
This the Australian outpost of Apple News, the aggregation platform launched by the iPhone maker back in 2015, which has become an increasingly important source of traffic for many publishers.

Former SBS boss says entire ABC board should consider resigning

By Michael Koziol
18 November 2018 — 11:45pm
The recently-departed head of SBS, Michael Ebeid, has delivered a scathing verdict on the ABC's tumultuous year, arguing the entire board should leave and calling for an upheaval of how directors are chosen at both public broadcasters.
Mr Ebeid – who left SBS in October after seven years at the helm – said an independent panel should select a new ABC board, and the board should then pick its chair as well as any future directors.
"That's how every board in the country's done," Mr Ebeid told Fairfax Media. "I've never understood why the board of the SBS and the ABC cannot select their future board members [based on] people who have the right skills rather than connections to a government of either persuasion.

Fairfax-Ipsos poll: Australians split on Muslim migration ahead of new population policy

By David Crowe
18 November 2018 — 7:58pm
Australian voters are split on whether to cut the number of migrants coming from Muslim countries, as the Morrison government considers an overhaul of immigration and population rules within weeks.
A special Fairfax-Ipsos survey finds only 14 per cent of voters support an increase in the number of immigrants from Muslim countries while 35 per cent believe the intake should stay the same.
But another 46 per cent believe the intake should be reduced a lot or a little - a position backed by a clear majority of Coalition voters and one third of Labor voters.

'Uber Eats and Deliveroo should be very worried': Ruling to reshape gig economy

By Cara Waters
19 November 2018 — 12:01am
Australia's gig economy could be reshaped by a finding that a former Foodora delivery rider, unfairly dismissed, was an employee, not an independent contractor.
Experts say the ruling last week by the Fair Work Commission has put the business models of competitors Uber Eats and Deliveroo under increased scrutiny.
Senator Murray Watt chaired the Future of Work inquiry this year which examined the gig economy where almost a million self-employed Australians work on a freelance or project basis, rather than in permanent jobs.
Mr Watt said the commission's decision is belated recognition that technology is creating new ways to exploit workers and that Australia's workplace laws have not kept pace with technology or technological change.
  • Updated Nov 20 2018 at 7:46 AM

'Enough, enough, enough': Scott Morrison flags cut to migration intake

Scott Morrison is considering cutting immigration numbers to prevent over- crowding in Australia's biggest cities.
The prime minister has asked state premiers and chief ministers to bring their population strategies to the next Council of Australian Governments meeting.
Mr Morrison used the Bradfield Lecture on Monday night to say community sentiment was in favour of cutting numbers in Sydney and Melbourne.
"The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear," he said.

Mark Zuckerberg should - at least - step down as Facebook chairman

By Margaret Sullivan
20 November 2018 — 5:33am
Washington: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg once set out a bit of digital-world wisdom that became his company's informal motto: "Move fast and break things."
After the past week's developments, the 34-year-old should declare mission accomplished - and find something else to do for the next few decades.
Because he's shown that he's incapable of leading the broken behemoth that is Facebook.

University signs up for deeper ties with China

By Kirsty Needham
19 November 2018 — 6:48pm
Beijing: University of NSW vice chancellor Ian Jacobs has urged Australian universities to continue collaborating with China to stay competitive in science and technology research that could be turned into economic benefit for Australia.
One of the world’s leading science publishers, Springer Nature, has formed a partnership with the University of NSW and China’s top science institute to deepen collaboration between Australian and Chinese researchers on artificial intelligence, renewable energy, materials and health science.
Speaking in Beijing, Professor Jacobs praised the “brilliant minds” at the Chinese Academy of Science, which will co-host an annual Springer Nature innovation summit, and said Australia would be “foolish not to be looking to partner with a country that is doing such extraordinary things”.

Immigration debate, with Sydney and Melbourne focus, clouds key issue of federalism

  • November 20, 2018
While there has been a strong focus on the rights and the wrongs of Scott Morrison’s announcement that immigration numbers would likely be cut, there is a bigger issue at play.
The twin population centres of Sydney and Melbourne make up a huge quantum of the overall population, and that is projected to become even more so in the years ahead. By 2050 Sydney and Melbourne are expected to make up nearly half the national population.
Yes, for those living in either city concerns around infrastructure and the like are understandably front of mind. But it’s the risk of political marginality elsewhere that seems to be forgotten in this debate.

Chris Bowen issues warning about Australian economy, raises US and China fears

  • November 20, 2018
Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen has issued a pessimistic outlook for the Australian economy, warning that the country’s record run of growth is under threat from a downturn in either the US or China within a few years.
He said the uncertainty was heightened by the risk of a full-blown trade between the US and China and Australia must “prepare for the worst”.
Speaking to business leaders in Perth today, Mr Bowen said Australia could insulate itself from a downturn in the US or China by running budget surpluses equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP.
  • Updated Nov 21 2018 at 5:43 AM

Wall Street's slow motion crash continues with no end in sight

Washington | Wall Street's slow-motion stock rout - which is about to enter its eighth week - deepened on renewed jitters about trade, economic growth and tightening Fed policy, triggering the White House to insist there is no prospect of a recession on the horizon.
Undermining hopes of a traditional end-of-year rally, benchmark indexes slumped, led by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was more than 500 points lower in early afternoon trading in New York. The S&P 500 was down to a three week low, and the Nasdaq Composite fell as technology stocks were again hit by concerns of faltering consumer demand.
Renewed pessimism on Wall Street is being reinforced by fears the Trump administration won't find an off-ramp for its bruising trade war with China ahead of a likely meeting between the president and China's Xi Jinping in Argentina at the end of the month.
  • Updated Nov 21 2018 at 6:57 AM

Goldman Sachs says it's time for sharemarket investors to boost their cash

by Divya Balji
Singapore Stock investors have had a great run in recent years, but with cash now offering positive inflation-adjusted returns, it may be wise to dial back on risk, according to Goldman Sachs.
"Mixed-asset investors should maintain equity exposure but lift cash allocations," Goldman strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a November 19 report. "Cash will represent a competitive asset class to stocks for the first time in many years."
The call reflects the impact of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes that have sent yields on money-market funds well over 2 per cent - surpassing the pace of inflation. With the Fed projected to raise its benchmark by another quarter percentage point next month, and further moves looming in 2019, cash may become all the more attractive.

It's not just a stock market bubble that's deflating

By Stephen Bartholomeusz
21 November 2018 — 12:00am
The implosion of the US equity market over the past seven weeks has grabbed most of the attention, but there has been a parallel crash occurring in credit markets that may have even more significant and disturbing implications.
A sell-off of corporate bonds has seen their yields spike. Junk bond yields have risen to their highest level in nearly 2½ years, while investment-grade bond yields are at their highest levels for more than eight years.
US stocks sold off for a second day as energy shares dropped with oil prices and retailers tumbling after weak earnings and forecasts.

Making a needless enemy of Indonesia isn’t smart

By Nicholas Stuart
20 November 2018 — 10:00pm
Remember September? Just two months ago, perhaps, for you and I and yet a lifetime in terms of Scott Morrison’s education about affairs of the world. The one-time tourism director responsible for yelling “where the bloody hell are you” at the rest of the world appears, if extremely slowly, to be finally discovering the world beyond the mono-cultural Shire in southern Sydney.
The PM couldn’t be bothered making time to attend the Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in September, even though this is by far the most crucial event in our neighbourhood. Now, suddenly, he’s woken up. Bizarre missteps, like disastrously suggesting we might move our Tel Aviv embassy to Jerusalem, show Morrison still apparently values the potential ballot of hard-line Wentworth Jewish voters more than our entire relationship with Indonesia (the largest Muslim nation in the world). Nevertheless, at least it’s a start.
If only he could manage to actually complete a sentence rather than just gabbling off the latest marketing slogan that’s been pushed in front of his eyes; if only he could manage to listen to a policy briefing before plunging off into his next misadventure; if only he exuded the possibility – however remote – that he genuinely believed and had thought about something.

Scott Morrison's population pitch may resonate with voters

By David Crowe
20 November 2018 — 7:09pm
Scott Morrison is slowly building a population policy that could resonate with voters at the election early next year.
The Prime Minister is exposed to Labor claims of a backflip, given his own rhetoric a few months ago, but he must develop this new approach to migration after a year of mixed messages from across the government.
The standard political answer is no longer enough. When voters express concern about urban congestion and population growth, politicians try to switch the subject to their infrastructure promises.

Academics warn of potential for fake news campaign before polls

  • 11:00PM November 20, 2018
Parliament has been warned the risk of misinformation campaigns having an impact on Australian elections is “high” amid new research that Chinese-language social media is “flooded” with stories to shape opinion.
The joint standing committee on electoral matters held a hearing on the cyber manipulation of polls yesterday with talks from academics and digital activists.
Tom Sear from the Australian Defence Force Academy said while there was no evidence of information campaigns targeting the last Australian federal election, the risk that the upcoming election would be targeted was “high”.

The stockmarket is in worse shape than you think it is

By Stephen Gandel
22 November 2018 — 9:51am
The stockmarket is no longer not just not great - it's downright awful. In fact, after the 550-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday, 2018's market meltdown, at least in terms of valuations, now ranks among the worst of the past few decades.
The price-to-earnings multiple of the S&P 500 Index, based on the next 12 months of earnings, has fallen 17 per cent in 2018. That's the third-biggest drop in valuations since 1991, which is as far back as Bloomberg data goes on that metric. That's only 1 percentage point better than the 18 per cent slide in valuations in 2008, during the financial crisis. The worst valuation drop was in 2002, when corporate profits and the economy, but not yet the stock market, were rebounding from the dot-com bust.
The S&P 500 now trades at 15.4 times what those companies are expected to earn per share during the next four quarters, which includes the current one. That's down from 18.7 at the start of the year. It is also the lowest point of Donald Trump's presidency, down 8 per cent from Election Day.

Morrison's 'captain's call' on Israel embassy was a misguided stunt

By John Hewson
22 November 2018 — 12:00am
Did you hear that the Palestinians are considering moving their embassy in Australia to Sydney’s Sutherland Shire? A joke, of course, but it matches the Morrison knee-jerk decision to consider shifting our Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
To be absolutely clear, and ignoring the tsunami of subsequent hubris and spin, this was the Prime Minister’s captain’s call, made within a week of the Wentworth by-election, made in desperation, without consultation with DFAT, other relevant advisers, or cabinet, in an ill-conceived, naive attempt to win the so-called Jewish vote.
The announcement was made public on October 16, in full knowledge that the Jewish Board of Deputies had organised a debate between the major candidates, Sharma, Phelps, Murray, and Heath, for that evening in Woollahra.
  • Nov 22 2018 at 11:16 AM

OECD tips 'robust' Australian economic growth

Australia's economic growth is tipped to remain "robust" and ahead of most advanced economies through to the end of next year, despite global growth tempering and escalating financial risks emanating from the United States, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says.
"New capacity coming on stream in the resource sector will support exports and business investment will pick up," the OECD's biannual global economic outlook says.
"Growth of wages and prices will rise gradually, while the unemployment rate will edge lower."
The OECD upgraded its 2018 estimate of domestic economic growth to 3.1 per cent and slightly edged down the 2019 forecast to 2.9 per cent.
  • Updated Nov 22 2018 at 3:28 PM

ANZ doubles down on housing downturn: prices to fall 20pc

Housing prices could fall as much as 20 per cent across Sydney and Melbourne before the downturn is over, according to a revised forecast from ANZ.
ANZ's economists are the latest to downgrade their predictions amid worsening signals from the housing market and the chilling effect of credit tightening.
As recently as September, ANZ was tipping a a 10 per cent fall peak to trough in Sydney and Melbourne, while warning the current weakness in house prices would extend into 2020.
  • Updated Nov 23 2018 at 8:30 AM

Can Australia weather a housing downturn?

by Scott Haslem
There seems little doubt that housing will drag on Australia's growth outlook through 2019. Indeed, growth in home lending and building activity has historically been the "tail that wags the dog" as far as Australia's growth cycle (and sentiment) is concerned.
Yet much debate rages over whether the unfolding correction in housing is a more familiar periodic problem for year-ahead growth – or critically, whether it will drive a more sinister (potentially systemic) credit crunch that brings the economy to its knees. Will we see household wealth, housing prices and housing activity correct to multi-decade lows in the year ahead?
It's appropriate to canvas both the "sanguine" and more "bearish" viewpoints on Australia's residential outlook.
  • Updated Nov 24 2018 at 6:32 AM

Wall Street drops, S&P 500 confirms correction

by Lewis Krauskopf
New York | US stocks closed lower in a shortened post-holiday trading session on Friday as the energy sector tumbled on continued weakness in oil prices, and the benchmark S&P 500 confirmed its second correction of 2018.
The three major US indexes all fell well over 3 per cent for the week, with the Dow industrials and the Nasdaq posting their biggest weekly percentage declines since March.
The S&P 500 ended about 10.2 per cent down from its September 20 closing record high, confirming it had entered a correction.
The S&P last entered a correction earlier this year after posting a then record high in late January, and falling more than 10 per cent by early February. That correction lasted roughly seven months, until the index posted a fresh record high in late August.
  • Updated Nov 23 2018 at 11:00 PM

Has Albert Einstein passed his use-by date?

by Dennis Overbye
Is Albert Einstein finally dead? Yes. The old sage took his last breath and muttered his last indecipherable words, in German, on April 18, 1955. But lately he has been dying a second death, if one believes a new spate of articles and papers bemoaning the state of contemporary physics.
Never mind the recent, staggering discovery of gravitational waves: ripples in space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago, and which indicate the universe is peppered with black holes that shred and swallow stars. Something much deeper than gravity or quantum theory, Einstein's other misbegotten legacy, is at stake.
More than anyone, it was Einstein who set the goal for modern science: the search for a final theory of everything, a "unified theory", he said, that would explain why there was no other way to put together the universe than the one we seem to live in. Or, as he famously put it, "What interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world."

Australia is going to be hearing a lot from Kerryn Phelps over the coming months

By Jacob Saulwick & Nick O'Malley
24 November 2018 — 12:00am
When Juliette O’Brien went to see her doctor, Kerryn Phelps, one day in 2012, she was heartsick and scared. Her brother, Adam, had died from a seizure the year before; her father, cancer surgeon Chris O’Brien, lost his life to a brain tumour in 2009.
Now, as she waited to see Phelps in her Surry Hills clinic she was unwell herself, underweight and lethargic. She had already visited a couple of times and Phelps had sent her for blood tests and to a nutritionist. The tests showed abnormal thyroid activity.
In Phelps’ office, O’Brien sat by a window and she recalls that, at one point, the doctor cocked her head to the side to get a better look at how the sun played on her skin. “The way it worked in that moment, the light hit my neck in a particular way,” says O’Brien. “She said ‘I think she can see a small nodule there'. And we were able to work out that it was cancer in the week.”

It's ugly and unoriginal but there is a way Morrison could win

By Peter Hartcher
24 November 2018 — 12:00am
It's fashionable to write off the Coalition government, and for good reason. It's also wrong.
The electorate is revolted by the Liberal Party civil war, frustrated at its failure on key policy like energy and climate, and thoroughly unexcited about the new Prime Minister. Scott Morrison is a blur of sound and action but few are listening.
The government has lost its majority. It hasn't been ahead in the polls for three years. The betting agencies have the odds against its re-election at over 3 to 1. So what can a political party do faced with such dire prospects? The first reflex in recent history is to change leader, but they've done that. It didn't work.
There is another way. It's the mighty scare campaign. Modern campaigners, in the ongoing Orwellisation of the English language, prefer to call it a "strong truth" campaign. The scare campaign is unoriginal, it's ugly, but, when it's done well, effective. Even an unpopular leader at the head of a tired government can win with a good scare campaign.

US scientists have challenged Donald Trump on climate change

  • AP
  • 8:09AM November 24, 2018
A huge US government report challenges President Donald Trump on climate change, warning extreme weather disasters are worsening in the US because of global warming.
The White House report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, was quietly issued Friday US time and frequently contradicts President Trump.
“Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century,” says the congressionally-mandated report, which spans more than 1000 pages.

The seven factors crushing sharemarket

  • 11:00PM November 23, 2018
Why? If our economy is primed to grow at more than 3 per cent, unemployment is at 5 per cent and our rich superannuation system pumps new money into the ASX each day, why is our local sharemarket on the ropes?
The weakness on the ASX has been triggered by a sell-off in the tech titans on Wall Street: put simply, we didn’t have the uplift they got in the US, but we are getting the downdraft. This week at one point the local market fell below what technical analysers see as a fault line — 5650. We opened the 2018 calendar year at 6065 and the financial year at 6194. So what is happening?
A string of local factors are dictating the pace of the Australian sharemarket and when you put them together they accumulate to a strong argument for a widely ­diversified investment portfolio
  • Updated Nov 23 2018 at 11:00 PM

Investing tools to broaden your portfolio diversification

Feeling the pain of a continued rough ride on the Australian stock market? It's likely to be much worse if you've got a concentrated portfolio – a timely reminder of the importance of diversifying your investments.
Why? Because it spreads investment risk so that if one asset class performs below expectations, others may be able to offset any losses.
A lack of diversification is particularly apparent among investors such as self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) in Australia.
Two-thirds of SMSF trustees consider a portfolio invested in 20 shares to be well-diversified, according to recent data from the SMSF Association, despite this being dangerously low.
  • Updated Nov 25 2018 at 12:58 AM

Victorian election 2018: Daniel Andrews' Labor Party landslide win against Liberals

Daniel Andrews' Labor Party is set to be returned to government in Victoria for a second term, in a crushing defeat for Matthew Guy's Liberal-National coalition.
In a victory comparable to past Labor landslides won by Steve Bracks in 2002 and John Cain in 1982, Labor scored massive swings of up to 10 per cent in eastern suburbs seats traditionally held safely by the Liberals and not considered to be in play.
The stunning result set the Andrews government up for a sharply increased majority of as many as 58 seats in the 88 seat chamber with just under half the votes counted. Labor entered the election with a bare one seat majority.

Blame game begins as crushing defeat in Victoria throws the spotlight on Canberra

The Liberal Party's disastrous performance in the Victorian election has put the Morrison government on course for a crushing defeat at next year's federal poll, as a brawl breaks out over whether Malcolm Turnbull's demise was to blame for the shock result.
Premier Daniel Andrews easily won Saturday's election following a surge to Labor in a swag of seats across the state, including marginal electorates held by the Liberals.
Four more years, four more years,' the crowd chants as a triumphant Premier Daniel Andrews promises that 'the next four years will be about delivering for all Victorians.'

Beware the shifting winds in Australia

When prime ministers leave office, they usually write their autobiographies – or, in Kevin Rudd’s case, two volumes of memoirs. Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister from early 2006 to late 2015, is different. Instead of penning a self-serving account of his decade-long tenure, spinning history and settling scores with rivals or the press, he has written an important book on politics and leadership in the age of disruption.
In Right Here, Right Now, Harper makes it clear he is no Donald Trump fan. Trump is, after all, a rude and crude buffoon. But far from being an accident of history, the US President reflects trends in other Western democracies, especially across Europe.
A surge in support for various nationalist movements underscores the growing resentment of a governing class many voters feel has turned a deaf ear to their legitimate grievances. These movements, Harper observes, represent a cry for help from ordinary people who have been disoriented by globalisation and mass immigration.

What Aldi can teach us all, politicians included, about trust

Trust is a fundamental pillar of society. But it is broken.
Last week I heard a speech by Richard Harris, the anaesthetist who was a central figure in the Thai cave rescue, helping to sedate the stricken boys before they dived into the water to exit the flooded cave.
Here was the ultimate act of trust. These boys, their families, the world, put their trust into the hands of Dr Harris and his peers. And an amazing result, or what most, including Dr Harris, have described as a miracle, was achieved.
But in the age of Trump and fake news, trust, it seems, is broken – trust in media, in governments, and in organisations is at an all-time low.

Financial Services Royal Commission Issues.

  • Updated Nov 18 2018 at 11:00 PM

Herbert Smith Freehills says Hayne-induced legal action would be 'dangerous'

With the banks braced for an application of the legal blowtorch over the next fortnight, one of the nation's leading banking lawyers says court action against bank wrongdoing could be counterproductive and actually hamper attempts to improve culture.
One of the Hayne's inquiry's core observations in the interim report was that regulators need to conduct more litigation against banks to enforce the law. It criticised too many "enforceable undertakings" and other agreed settlements.
But "I strongly doubt that a relentless wave of litigation, taking to court all breaches great and small, will be of benefit to anyone," said Tony Damian, a partner of Herbert Smith Freehills and global co-chairman of the firm's banking sector group.

CBA's one big culture problem is loud and clear: everyone is too quiet

By Stephen Bartholomeusz
20 November 2018 — 12:01am
For anyone who’s read the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority-commissioned report on the governance, culture and accountability of Commonwealth Bank, the banking royal commission’s grilling of CBA chief executive Matt Comyn hasn’t provided revelations. It did, however, provide some insights.
The commission’s early focus with Comyn was on variable remuneration for frontline staff. There was also, however, a subsidiary but overlapping discussion of culture.
The APRA panel’s overriding conclusions about the reason for the spate of "incidents" within CBA was that the group’s financial success had dulled its senses to signals that might otherwise have alerted its board and senior management to a deterioration in its management of non-financial risks.

Call for Hayne to break up the banks

By Sarah Danckert
20 November 2018 — 12:15am
Banks’ self-serving flogging of products to customers should be canned by the Hayne royal commission and they should be broken up, a conference has heard.
Nick Sherry, who was superannuation minister from 2007-09 in the Rudd government, said revelations at the banking royal commission showed that many of the superannuation trustees for big banks were not working in the best interests of members in the funds.
 “What I find a little startling is the culture of many who participate in this sector who believe it is appropriate to maximise the clip-the-ticket fee approach. Is that consistent with the fiduciary duties for a trustee?” Mr Sherry asked the Maurice Blackburn Corporate Conduct and Class Action Symposium in Sydney on Monday.
  • Updated Nov 20 2018 at 12:28 PM

Banking royal commission: Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn throws Ian Narev under bus

The 301 is one of many buses that shoot along Goulburn Street in Sydney, past the Lionel Bowen Building where the royal commission hearings are being held.
Inside the building, it was a metaphorical bus that former Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev was being thrown under by his successor, Matt Comyn, on Tuesday morning. Former CBA chairman David Turner went under too.
This was a good morning for Comyn, who over the course of his two days in the witness box has slowly built up an image of someone who actually campaigned inside the bank for product reforms that would have protected customers, including changing mortgage broker commissions as revealed Monday.
  • Updated Nov 20 2018 at 10:34 PM

RBA's Philip Lowe warns on bank scandals, overkill risk

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe has warned that scandals in the finance sector and flat real wage growth over the last six years are undermining the public's confidence in important institutions, so trust must be restored to avoid a more damaging backlash against the economic and political system.
Following the Hayne royal commission's damning findings into financial services, Dr Lowe called for an overhaul of remuneration and strong penalties for financiers to incentivise a long-term service culture.
But, pointedly, he said reforms should avoid deterring bankers lending money because the "economy will suffer".
"On conduct issues, we should set our expectations and standards high, and if they are not met the penalties should be firm," Dr Lowe said in a speech on Tuesday night.
  • Updated Nov 21 2018 at 11:30 PM

Is Hayne's answer the one we want?

CBA chair questioned about CEO appointment
Kenneth Hayne looks like reshaping the governance of Australia's leading public companies judging from the line of questioning directed at Commonwealth Bank of Australia chairman Catherine Livingstone and chief executive Matt Comyn.
Based on the the lines of inquiry pursued by counsel assisting, Rowena Orr, QC, the Hayne governance era looks something like this: verbatim records of conversations held by board and sub-committee members, longer board meetings, more extensive board room information packs, intensive director induction programs, more robust challenging of management, and increased employment of lawyers and accountants as non-executive directors.
This would go hand-in-hand with the increased rules and regulations such as those already pushed through parliament covering bank remuneration. The new laws have given greater intervention powers to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, both of which will need significantly expanded budgets.

Macquarie's 'model' struts its stuff on royal commission catwalk

By Stephen Bartholomeusz
23 November 2018 — 12:15am
Something quite unusual happened at the banking royal commission. A bank chief executive appeared but escaped, not only unscathed, but with their organisation’s reputation arguably enhanced. It is probably only Macquarie’s Nicholas Moore who could pull that off.
It was obvious almost from the outset that the counsel assisting, Michael Hodge, was taking a different and gentler approach to Moore than has been the case with other senior bankers appearing before the commission.
That might have appeared improbable beforehand, given that the initial focus of discussions was the enforceable undertaking the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) imposed on Macquarie in 2013 after it uncovered eight potential breaches of the Corporations Act by Macquarie Equities and a potential breach of its financial services licence.
  • Updated Nov 23 2018 at 11:00 PM

Banking royal commission: Bankers under the blowtorch

The banking royal commission has shattered the career ambitions of dozens of bankers around the land, but this week Matt Comyn, who now heads the country's largest and most strife-prone bank, showed that sometimes you can get lucky.
In his tender to the commission, Comyn, who took over the job of running the Commonwealth Bank in April, included a file note he'd made of a conversation at a meeting with the bank's then boss, Ian Narev, back in May 2015. In that meeting, Comyn had argued the bank should stop selling a controversial credit card insurance product which had been flogged to tens of thousands of people who were ineligible to claim any benefits. In response, Narev had told him to "temper your sense of justice".
Comyn made a perfunctory attempt to defend his former boss, saying he did not believe Narev was telling him to temper his sense of justice for wronged CBA customers, and he did not believe "commercial interests" were Narev's primary focus.
Still, the new CBA boss is not fool enough to look a gift horse in the mouth: and he very likely realised that his file note would likely cast him in a new and heroic light as the CBA's crusader-in-chief for justice.
  • Nov 23 2018 at 4:11 PM

Banking royal commission: Best blood sport in town

ASIC took too long to deal with NAB breach
It's become the best corporate blood sport in town; the no-holds-barred examination of banking and finance executives that is the Hayne royal commission.
The opponent is a brutal tag-team combination – counsel assisting Rowena "shock'n" Orr and Michael "babyface" Hodge – and the referee can come off the top rope at any time.
Documents can be produced without prior notice to cause maximum discomfort. Attempts to give context to answers are ignored. Barristers seem reluctant to make objections lest they been seen to be "helping out" witnesses.
There is even a gallery that will hiss at inelegant answers and laugh at questions they like and answers they don't.

ASIC's report card belongs with the squashed banana at the bottom of the school bag

By Elizabeth Knight
24 November 2018 — 12:05am
The royal commission hearings this week produced, what makes for, a proxy report card on our corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. It’s not one that any kid would want to show their parents.
It was more the kind to hide at the bottom of the school bag at the end of term hoping it would be rendered unreadable after it had been mixed with the squashed banana.
A few (interpretive) scores:
Willingness to use the courts to prosecute breaches by large financial institutions criminally or even civilly. Fail.
(This includes over use of the gentle regulatory-lite ‘enforceable undertakings’ on corporate miscreants.)

National Budget Issues.

  • Updated Nov 22 2018 at 7:30 AM

Labor puts energy subsidies and investment ahead of NEG

Labor will end a decade of commitment to an explicit carbon price by instead opting to subsidise household batteries and underwrite clean power generation to meet its 45 per cent target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and minimise the potential for a Coalition scare campaign over power bills.   
In one of his most important policy announcements between now and the election, Labor leader Bill Shorten will say on Thursday that  his party remains committed to the National Energy Guarantee but will not hold the nation and the energy sector hostage while waiting for the Coalition to sort out its internal divisions.
In the absence of an agreement on a policy mechanism like the NEG, Labor will press ahead with a series of direct action and interventionist measures it says will lower prices and meet its aims to achieve by 2030 a 50 per cent renewable energy mix, and a 45 per cent economy-wide reduction in emissions on 2005 levels. The Coalition has an economy-wide reduction target of 26 per cent to 28 per cent.

Bill Shorten sets new course on climate, boosting renewables and subsidising batteries for 100,000 homes

By David Crowe
22 November 2018 — 12:00am
Labor is vowing to underwrite a series of mammoth new energy projects that ramp up the supply of renewable power, in a long-awaited plan that sidelines a bipartisan agreement in Parliament out of concern the Coalition cannot agree on a united policy.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will pledge direct financial support for new projects to offer reliable electricity supply, leaving the door open to gas-fired power but ruling out any help for coal.
The new stance means Labor would go to the next election with plans to sign commercial contracts with new power projects if it wins government, showing it is ready to abandon the National Energy Guarantee championed by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
  • Updated Nov 22 2018 at 11:00 PM

Battery Bill's welcome energy plan

Bill Shorten's embrace of the big battery age, and Chris Ellison's almost-successful quest to bag a financially muscular partner for the next campaign in Mineral Resources' march into the mainstream of the seaborne lithium trade, land a compelling and telling coincidence.
But the battery plan is $216 million worth of pure retail politics whose only saving grace is that it walks in helpful lock-step with the pre-election solar mission embraced by Victoria. This is just another expression of the rollout of middle-class welfare that has transformed our national energy landscape.

Health Issues.

Are private health insurers profiteering?

Time to pull the plug, or is this a Labor political stunt?
Senior Digital Journalist, Your Money
Shadow health minister Catherine King has lashed out at private health insurers for raking in the profits even as more Australians are forced to ditch their cover.
More than 5,000 people dropped private health cover in the last quarter, according to data by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, meaning less than half of the population is now covered.
King accused company executives of profiteering and spending more on “management expenses,” such as costly overseas trips, exacerbating consumer premiums.
  • Nov 18 2018 at 6:05 PM

Rising caesarean rate undermines natural birth push

Two of the top objectives of obstetric health are going backwards in NSW. More women are giving birth through caesarean sections and fewer are exclusively breastfeeding their babies.
Despite a specific policy in the NSW health system of encouraging vaginal births, the rate of caesareans increased from 31.5 per cent of all births in 2012 to to 33.8 per cent last year.
Most of the increase was in private hospitals, where doctors said many women were choosing caesareans for personal reasons, although increasing obesity was contributing to the trend.

Synthetic cell breakthrough a world-changer, scientists say

  • 12:00AM November 19, 2018
A scientific breakthrough with the potential to revolutionise a huge range of life sciences, and lead to personalised medicines, will be unveiled at an international conference at Sydney’s Macquarie University today.
Scientists from the US, Britain, Singapore, China and Australia will say they have successfully synthesised all 16 chromosomes in the complex yeast cell, allowing for the genetic blueprint of cells.
“The impact will be immense. It will be like the first time we had access to the internet. It’s that big. It’s absolutely a world-changer,” Macquarie University deputy vice-chancellor, research, Sakkie Pretorius said.

Stunning breakthrough in early detection of ovarian cancer

  • 12:00AM November 20, 2018
A blood test for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer has been hailed a potential “game changer”.
James Paton, director of University of Adelaide’s ­Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, said yesterday the test could greatly improve early detection of the disease. Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of the female reproductive cancers, mainly due to late diagnosis resulting from lack of specific symptoms. The disease kills more than 1000 Australian women and 150,000 worldwide each year.
“Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to detect in its early stages, when there are more options for treatment and survival rates are better,” Professor Paton said. “Our new test is therefore a potential game changer.”

Hospital is a test case for privatisation

20 November 2018 — 12:00am
The problems that appear to have dogged the first weeks of the new privately run Northern Beaches Hospital, which Premier Gladys Berejiklian formally opened on Monday, have significance far beyond the suburbs the facility is designed to serve.
The hospital, built and operated by a consortium led by private firm Healthscope under a 20-year, $2.2 billion contract, is the flagship for the NSW government experiment handing to the private sector the delivery of a much wider range of public services from prisons to technical education to health.
The Herald is agnostic about which services should be provided by the public sector directly or by a private contractor but looks at each case on its merits. There will be times where the private sector can add efficiency and new ways of thinking but others where private profits only come at the price of worse services and greater risks.

Push to ban rogue operators from using 'cosmetic surgeon' title

By Kate Aubusson
21 November 2018 — 11:33am
The bogus title "cosmetic surgeon" could be legitimised under sweeping recommendations aimed at protecting the public from botched treatments and unscrupulous purveyors of cosmetic services.
The recommendations presented to the NSW Parliament pave the way for penalties for anyone who misleads patients by claiming to be a "cosmetic surgeon" when there is no such specialty, and no minimum criteria nor training associated with the title.
People who provide cosmetic treatments would be forced to declare any commissions or kickbacks, and patients would be required to consult a GP before they undergo a cosmetic procedure if the recommendations are accepted.

Doctors to refund $49m in rebates

Public hospitals will be subjected to increased scrutiny to ensure they are not double-­dipping by billing Medicare for services meant to be funded under state budgets.
  • 11:00PM November 21, 2018
The amount of Medicare money found to have been misused by doctors surged 68 per cent last year, when the Department of Health demanded $48.7 million in rebates be repaid to help keep the budget sustainable.
Tougher compliance initi­atives have seen a tenfold increase in the amount ordered to be repaid by doctors over the past five years. In 2016-17, about $29m was raised as debts to Medicare, but the subsequent federal budget foreshadowed an extra $103.8m over four years as the government sought to tighten control over spending.
Last year, for the first time, the department was also able to demonstrate $148.5m in savings attributable to “behaviour change” following interventions such as letters to doctors questioning why their billing differed from their peers.

Super access for bariatric surgery OK

  • 11:00PM November 21, 2018
People will still be allowed early access to their superannuation to pay for weight-loss surgery and other healthcare after a Treasury review heard it “could be beneficial in a world of finite government resources”.
While the existing rules around compassionate access were found to be largely approp­riate, there will likely be some clarification insofar as applications for mental health and dental treatment, disability aids and modified vehicles are concerned.
People wanting to access their superannuation in times of severe financial hardship would also face new restrictions, ­ostensibly to protect them from themselves.

Into the heart of the matter

  • By Jane Mccredie
  • 11:00PM November 23, 2018
In the late 19th century, the US struggled under the burden of an appalling new disease. Symptoms included headaches, palpitations, high blood pressure, indigestion, neuralgia and depression.
Through the decades around the turn of the 20th century, neurasthenia — sometimes referred to as “Americanitis” — was one of the most common diagnoses given to patients. Its principle cause was considered to be the ever-accelerating pace of modern life. One neurologist described it as “a disorder of capitalist modernity”, while other observers blamed it on newfangled electric lighting.
Neurasthenia is not a term you’ll hear today, though it finally disappeared from clinical guidelines only in the 1980s. What happened? Did scientists find a miraculous cure for the debilitating condition or was it never a real disease in the first place?

Aged-care sector on probe deadline

  • 11:00PM November 23, 2018
Almost 6000 approved aged-care providers will spend the Christmas period combing over their records to provide a detailed list of cases of abuse and poor care over the past five years as the royal commission into the sector begins.
Commissioners Joseph McGrath and Lynelle Briggs are due to write to every residential and home-care provider in the country and request they self-report the information to meet a January 7 deadline, part of the first major information-gathering step for the inquiry.
The $17 billion-a-year sector will be the subject of the highest probe in the land after Scott Morrison announced the royal commission in September, just weeks after becoming Prime Minister.

Health rebate battle is brewing

  • 11:00PM November 23, 2018
The standard rate of the health ­insurance rebate is likely to fall below 25 per cent next year, exacerbating premium increases and setting the scene for an election stoush over commonwealth support for the private sector.
Health funds had until yesterday to apply to Health Minister Greg Hunt to increase premiums on April 1 next year.
The Coalition government is aiming for another average industry increase of below 4 per cent, as Labor vows to impose a two-year, 2 per cent cap if elected, arguing that insurers are profiteering.
Despite rolling reform talks, more policies are being dumped or laden with exclusions because of a perceived lack of affordability.

International Issues.

  • Updated Nov 18 2018 at 2:20 PM

How the Cold War between China and the US will unfold

by Gary Clyde Hufbauer
Amid the chaos of the Trump presidency, Vice-President Mike Pence's declaration last month of a new Cold War with China is by far the administration's biggest departure from business as usual.
The declaration came after Trump's tariff war was well underway and the US Treasury had issued regulations to screen inward investment tightly, pursuant to the new Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act. For good measure, the US Commerce Department will also screen corporate technology flows destined for China, pursuant to the updated Export Administration Act.
Economic sanctions are the front line of the new Cold War, unlike the US–Soviet confrontation of yesteryear. But military escalation cannot be far behind. Since the United States and China already possess enough intercontinental nuclear missiles for mutually assured destruction, and since the US would be hopelessly outnumbered in conventional land battles, military escalation will focus on naval power and hypersonic short-range missiles.

The Gulag Archipelago confirmed the horrors of the Soviet Union

  • By Jordan Peterson
  • 12:00AM November 17, 2018
First, you defend your homeland against the Nazis, serving as a twice-decorated soldier on the Eastern front in the criminally ill-prepared Soviet Red Army. Then you’re arrested, humiliated, stripped of your military rank, charged under the auspices of the all-purpose Article 58 with the dissemination of “anti-Soviet propaganda”, and dragged off to Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka prison. There, through the bars of your cell, you watch your beloved country celebrating its victory in the Great Patriotic War. Then you’re sentenced, in absentia, to eight years of hard labour (but you got away easy; it wasn’t so long ­afterwards that people in your ­position were awarded a “tenner” — and then a quarter of a century!). And fate isn’t finished with you yet — not by any means. You develop a deadly cancer in the camp, endure the exile imposed on you after your imprisonment ends, and pass very close to death.

Alliance counter China, with one eye on Trump

  • 12:00AM November 19, 2018
In a major bonus for the Morrison government, the US has made a naval commitment to Australia’s immediate region not seen since World War II: a warning to China that its days of easy gains against a distracted Western alliance should be over.
The network of strategic, economic and infrastructure deals emerging from the Asian summit season reveals a Western alliance system — the US, Australia and Japan — in an assertive push back against China’s regional influence.
The conflicting appeals by US Vice-President Mike Pence and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, expose a rivalry now naked, intense and sure to deepen. The push back against China is driven, above all, by one instinct — to ensure China’s military gains in the South China Sea when a complacent America was asleep at the wheel are not replicated closer to Australia.
  • Updated Nov 19 2018 at 7:25 AM

APEC 2018: Trade fight erupts at APEC between US and China

Port Moresby: The schism between Washington and Beijing has dramatically widened following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, with the no final communique issued after China refused to sign in protest the language used on reforms to the World Trade Organisation.
After US Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping traded barbs over trade and development in speeches on Saturday, frantic efforts by officials and leaders from the 21 countries to reach a consensus in the communique came to nought, an unprecedented outcome in the summit's near 30-year history.
The Australian Financial Review understands the US insisted on making a tough statement demanding China no longer be treated as a developing nation under WTO rules, which would end trade concessions it enjoys.

Former US intel chief Clapper: From the shadows to the spotlight

By Chris Zappone
18 November 2018 — 12:39am
James Clapper never expected at the age of 77 to embark on a second career in the full public gaze as a commentator on intelligence and security issues.
More accustomed to operating in the shadows of the security establishment as the US director of national intelligence, Clapper says of the decision to write a book, go on national TV and feud with the United States President: "This is counter-intuitive for me."
Yet who in the US intelligence community, or elsewhere, would have expected to find themselves confronting a government led by a President who traffics in conspiracy theories and lies, in a culture awash with fake news, trolls and influence operations?

‘The entire world is worried’: US-China tensions at global summit spark fears

A major meeting of world leaders didn’t go to plan with the host country issuing a grim warning over rising tensions between China and the US.
Gavin Fernando and wires
news.com.au November 19, 201811:27am
“The entire world is worried.”
That was Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s grim statement at the end of a summit of world leaders yesterday.
The two-day APEC gathering, which took place over the weekend on the Pacific island, was marred by tensions between the US and China.
For the first time in the summit’s 26-year history, regional leaders failed to issue a formal joint statement, with Mr O’Neill saying “the two big giants in the room” had been unable to agree.
  • Updated Nov 20 2018 at 5:17 AM

Ray Dalio sees parallels to 1930s in today's markets: Brian Chappatta

by Brian Chappatta
The world today looks most analogous to the late 1930s, Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, told my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Barry Ritholtz. That's a bit foreboding, to say the least.
Like 80 years ago, financial markets are in the late stages of this short-term business cycle, given that the Federal Reserve is tightening monetary policy as US equity prices reach record highs, Dalio said during a live taping of the "Masters in Business" podcast. He also sees rising "political polarity" in the form of populist candidates. On top of all that, the world is awash in debt, a longer-term problem without an easy solution given that interest rates in many developed-market economies remain near record lows and central banks have already purchased trillions of dollars worth of assets.
Dalio, who has a new book, Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises, somehow maintains a calm demeanour given the sort of conclusions he's drawn. In September, I wrote about how Dalio effectively described America's worst nightmare: the dollar losing its place as the world's reserve currency. His concern - shared by BlackRock's Larry Fink, among others - is that swelling US budget deficits will eventually irk big buyers overseas. Dalio said two months ago that "you easily could have a 30 per cent depreciation in the dollar" as the Fed has little choice but to monetise the national debt.

Frontline in US-China power struggle reaches Australia's doorstep

By Peter Hartcher
20 November 2018 — 12:00am
The last time there was an imperial-scale contest for power over Australia's sphere, its land advance was halted in Papua New Guinea. That was 1942 on the storied Kokoda Track. The contemporary Kokoda campaign was engaged on the weekend. It is also occurring in PNG. It is not a hot war, of course. But one by one all elements short of war are being arrayed.
To now, the imperial-scale contest between the US and China has occurred at safely abstract distances from Australia. In the South China Sea, the East China Sea. The new line of resistance is a country whose closest point is just 5 kilometres from Australian soil. The most obvious forum was the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. It accordingly became an economic non-cooperation summit.
"APEC was always an area where we could reach some common agreement with China on economic matters," says Mike Green of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Instead, for the first time in a quarter-century, the summit broke up without agreement on a communique. Why? "You know the two big giants in the room," the summit host, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, said.

'Maybe he did, maybe he didn't': Trump backs Saudis after killing

By Matthew Knott
21 November 2018 — 6:20am
New York: US President Donald Trump has signalled his administration will not seek any further sanctions against Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
Trump, instead, said his top priority is preserving America's "steadfast" alliance with the kingdom.
In a written statement filled with exclamation points, Trump said it was unclear whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had advance knowledge of the plan to assassinate Khashoggi.
This is despite the CIA reportedly concluding with "high confidence" that bin Salman ordered the murder of the prominent critic of the Saudi regime.

How China diverts, then spies on Australia's internet traffic

By Nick McKenzie, Angus Grigg & Chris Uhlmann
20 November 2018 — 11:45pm
Internet traffic heading to Australia was diverted via mainland China over a six-day period last year, in what some experts believe may have enabled a targeted data theft.
The diverted traffic from Europe and North America was logged as a routing error by the state-owned China Telecom, according to data released for the first time by researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Naval War College in the US.
"We noticed unusual and systematic hijacking patterns associated with China Telecom," one of the researchers, Yuval Shavitt, a professor at Tel Aviv University told Fairfax Media.

Jamal Khashoggi murder: Donald Trump excuses Saudis for murder due to alliance benefits

Trump's Saudi Arabia position 'causing waves' in Washington

  • November 21, 2018
Donald Trump has decisively turned America’s moral compass away from human rights and towards Realpolitik by allowing Saudi Arabia to escape sanctions over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
The correct decision in the Khashoggi case was always going to be one of proportionality. It was never going to be feasible or sensible to shatter the US-Saudi alliance over the killing, no matter how distasteful that single act was. It was also never going to be feasible or sensible to take the “nuclear option” of suspending or cancelling more than $100 billion in US defence contracts with the Saudis.

Apple’s falling numbers leave a sour taste for factories and parts suppliers

  • By Yoko Kubota
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • 11:00PM November 20, 2018
Lower-than-expected demand for Apple’s new iPhones and the company’s decision to offer more models has created turmoil along its supply chain, making it harder for Apple to predict the number of components and phones needed.
In recent weeks, Apple slashed production orders for all three of the iPhone models it unveiled in September, sources said, frustrating executives at Apple suppliers as well as workers who assemble the phones and their components.
Forecasts have been especially problematic for the iPhone XR, Apple’s new lower-price model. Late last month, Apple slashed its production plan by up to a third of the roughly 70 million units it had asked some suppliers to assemble between September and February, sources said.

The US slams China for cyber 'theft' while Canberra takes a back seat

By Nick McKenzie, Jacob Greber & Angus Grigg
21 November 2018 — 11:45pm
The White House has slammed China's increasingly frequent and sophisticated use of cyber attacks, citing the diversion of internet traffic and restarting of state-sponsored hacking programs among a litany of sharply worded complaints made against Beijing.
In his bi-annual report on China, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Beijing had "fundamentally" failed to change its behaviour around cyber espionage, giving it unfair access to intellectual property, trade secrets, negotiating positions and the internal communications of business.
The report adds weight to revelations in Fairfax Media this week that China diverted internet traffic heading to Sydney and its peak security agency had overseen a surge in attacks on Australian companies.
  • Nov 23 2018 at 7:58 AM

Brexit political accord stokes renewed criticism

Brussels | Britain and Brussels are battling to get a Brexit deal over the line, after a last-gasp political agreement unveiled on Thursday triggered rumbles of resistance from European leaders and renewed hostility from Britain's pro-Brexit politicians.
The deal that concluded 18 months of arduous negotiation covers both the 585-page exit treaty, which governs the transition period from March 29, and also the non-binding 26-page political declaration, which lays down a set of markers for the future relationship that the two sides will thrash out in the coming few years.
At what British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday called "a critical moment" for the Brexit process, the European Commission must now hose down restive Continental leaders, particularly Spain, before a Britain-EU summit in Brussels this Sunday to sign off the deal.

The US and its allies need to get serious about containing China, warns official

A former top Pentagon official has warned China’s global takeover is inevitable. And there’s one big reason they’re getting away with it.
news.com.au November 23, 20188:10am
A former top Pentagon official has warned China is set to become the most powerful country in the world.
Former deputy assistant secretary of defence, David Ochmanek, has warned that the US is at risk of losing the confidence of key allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Australia.
At the same time, China is pouring trillions of dollars into its army, military equipment and schemes squarely aimed at expanding its global influence.
If these trends continue, it could change the course of the world.
  • Nov 23 2018 at 11:45 AM

Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron search for very different visions of Europe

Brussels | Two European leaders came to Brussels this week with very different agendas.
Britain's Theresa May came to get out of the European Union. France's Emmanuel Macron was in town looking for ways to further integrate the remaining 27 economies in the union.
The debacle that is Brexit – and the soap opera that is the British Conservative Party – tends to dominate headlines about Europe in Australia.
But Brussels has, for at least some of the period since the original Brexit vote, liked to argue that the British exit is not the centre of its concerns: that it has lots of other things on its plate; that while Brexit is not what it would have wanted, it is more a problem for Britain than Europe.

With China on track to be the dominant power, what should the US do?

By Crispin Hull
24 November 2018 — 12:00am
Two under-reported events earlier this month show how serious China is to become the world’s dominant economic, and possibly, military power. They come as President Donald Trump is making a hash of US trade and security matters.
Most people have been concentrating on China’s moves the South China Sea and the Pacific, but developments to the west should raise similar concerns.
China has signed a $A9 billion agreement to construct a deep-water port at Kyaukphyu, a strategic city in Myanmar that lies on the Bay of Bengal coast.
In a complementary move China is dusting off proposals to build a 120-kilometre canal across the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand.

UK’s May vows to ‘stand by’ Gibraltar after Spain’s ‘veto’ threat

  • AFP
  • November 25, 2018
European leaders resolved a last-minute dispute over the rock Gibraltar on Saturday, clearing the way for a summit to approve a deal on Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez withdrew a threat to boycott Sunday’s Brexit talks just hours before Britain’s Theresa May arrived in Brussels.
May met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk, and afterwards the former’s spokesman Margaritis Schinas tweeted: “We are on track for tomorrow.” In his letter formally inviting the leaders of all 28EU member states to Sunday’s summit, Tusk said the deal reduces “the risks and losses resulting from the United Kingdom’s withdrawal”.
I look forward to comments on all this!