Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - 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, November 01, 2018

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

November 01, 2018 Edition.
Well a lively week all over. Trump’s barometer of success has fallen badly – the share-market has utterly tanked this week and most are a little poorer. We have also seen the Democrat icons attacked by pipe-bombs and blame flowing in all directions. Only a week or two till the Mid-Term elections so it is on for one and all. Oh and we have had another murderous hate crime…11 murdered at a Synagogue.
Right now Trump is in a mad frenzy of campaigning for the Mid-Terms next Tuesday and markets are a little more stable. 
Brexit stutters on but seems likely to be elongated or to get rid of Ms May.
In Europe and China growth is slowing which is not good for OZ.
In OS the Morrison Government is doing its best to make chaos seem orderly. Who knows what comes next but it does look like the Government has lost its parliamentary majority for certain and the game is somewhat changed.

Major Issues.

  • Oct 21 2018 at 12:54 PM

Sydney slammed as auction clearance rates plunge

Sydney's residential property market has sunk to a new low, with auction clearance rates likely to be revised down into the 30 per cent range after a dire weekend for vendors.
Nationally, the preliminarily auction result was 47 per cent, with Sydney's preliminary rate at 44.5 per cent, but Domain chief analyst Nicola Powell said the trend clearly indicated the figures would end up much lower, and that there would not be any improvement before the year is out.
"I think this is what we are going to see for Sydney for the rest of the year," she said.
"We are now hitting an all-time low for this downturn."

Josh Frydenberg rules out stronger climate polices despite Wentworth debacle

By David Wroe
21 October 2018 — 10:50am
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has insisted the government’s climate policies are “settled” despite acknowledging the issue was a factor in the Wentworth byelection, where the government suffered a battering on Saturday night.
Mr Frydenberg brushed aside suggestions the Morrison government needs to overhaul its climate action policies, saying its suite of existing measures were enough to “meet and beat” Australia’s emission reduction pledges.
Independent Kerryn Phelps campaigned hard on climate change and Liberal volunteers on the booths have reported it was a key issue for Wentworth voters. Dr Phelps still appears to have won the Sydney seat in one of the largest byelections swings in federal political history, though pre-polls and postal votes that are still being counted will make the final result close.

Even the best postal vote scenario for the Liberal Party would still see Kerryn Phelps win Wentworth

By David Crowe
21 October 2018 — 7:46pm
Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps has cemented her lead in the Wentworth byelection after a day of astonishing shifts in the provisional tally, with the final outcome to be decided by thousands of postal votes that are yet to be counted.
Liberal Party observers believe the government only has a remote chance of a shock comeback over the coming days, with Liberal candidate Dave Sharma falling further behind in the latest count on Sunday night.
Dr Phelps has secured 51.1 per cent of the vote in two-party terms, a lead that is substantial enough to withstand the gains Mr Sharma is expected to make when more postal votes are received by the time the deadline passes on November 2.

However they count it, Libs are in serious strife

  • 11:00PM October 21, 2018
The Wentworth by-election is a disaster for the Coalition and Scott Morrison.
The huge swing against the government in Malcolm Turnbull’s former eastern Sydney seat has exposed and magnified all the grave problems besetting and confronting the Liberal Party ahead of the general election.
Even a miraculous and unlikely victory out of the ashes to the Liberals’ Dave Sharma based on postal votes cannot hide the immense problems facing the Prime Minister and the government.

New trial launched to create 'green' gas from solar power

By Cole Latimer
22 October 2018 — 12:01am
An Australian-first trial is creating ‘green’ hydrogen gas made from renewables to power Sydney homes.
Energy company Jemena has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in a $15 million trial to convert excess solar and wind power into hydrogen gas, which will be stored and used in Jemena’s New South Wales gas network.
The H2GO project will see Jemena build a 500-kilowatt electrolyser in Western Sydney which will be powered by excess renewable energy to ‘crack’ water, separating it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be stored as a gas which can be reintroduced into the gas network when needed.

Rapid rise in retirees with mortgage debt

By John Collett
21 October 2018 — 12:00am
The number of Australian homeowners over the age of 65 still carrying mortgage debt has trebled since 2002, raising concerns the nation's retirement savings could be absorbed into the housing boom.
In 2002 only 4 per cent of homeowners aged over 65 carried mortgage debt, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show. By 2015, the latest figure available, that had grown to 12 per cent.
Rachel Ong, professor of economics at Curtin University, said it was a "worrying trend" and set to continue because the percentage of homeowners in their 50s and early 60s with mortgage debt had also increased.

The two most dangerous words in real estate

AUSTRALIA’S biggest housing markets are falling quickly. And sellers have a lot to answer for.
Jason Murphy @jasemurphy
news.com.au October 22, 201812:01pm

House prices: Australia's property market facing longest downturn in decades

WANT to know the most dangerous words in the market right now? “Passed in.”
Ever been to an auction where nobody bids? If buyers and sellers can’t agree on a price, the house is passed in. Usually if a house is passed in it remains unsold — sometimes for months.
This is a real estate agent’s nightmare. Their marketing campaign for the house has failed, they don’t get any commission and their client is cross. Worse, they have to keep working on selling the place.
A passed-in house will still be on the market next weekend, when the real estate agent is trying to sell other properties. And the weekend after, as more and more other houses are put up for sale.

Scott Morrison blamed for retirement system falling out of global top 3: Mercer

Australia's retirement system has gone backwards on global rankings because of changes to the age pension means test introduced by Scott Morrison when he was social services minister.
Australia has slipped from third place to fourth on the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, according to a report published on Monday.
The index scores retirement income systems on measures of sustainability, adequacy and integrity.
In Australia, both the Centrelink age pension and superannuation are taken into account.
  • Oct 22 2018 at 10:49 AM

Is the Sydney home price slide just tip of the iceberg?

This Thursday is going to be seriously important for property watchers.
Not because it will probably take that long to count all the postal votes in the seat of Wentworth where Kerryn Phelps is likely to win and support Bill Shorten's changes on negative gearing for property, but because this Thursday, the revised auction clearance rate numbers will be released by Domain.  
Based on the previous weekly revisions - that is, after the property agents 'fess up about the true results of their weekend listings - Sydney's auction clearance rate is likely to end up at about 37 per cent.
The last time it hit that low was a month after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008.
  • Updated Oct 23 2018 at 12:01 AM

Federal government moves ahead on 'default' tariffs in bid to cut power bills

The federal government has followed through on one of its key "big stick" strategies to reduce electricity bills, asking the national energy regulator to introduce a "default" tariff in a move that looks set to escalate suppliers' concerns about a re-regulation of prices.
The step, announced Tuesday by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Energy Minister Angus Taylor, is intended to tackle the gap between expensive "standing offers" paid by customers who have not shopped around for a competitive deal and the cheapest market offer in their region.
That gap has been calculated at as much as $832 a year for households in South Australia and as much as $3457 for small businesses in the same state.

Government's 'default energy price' to save consumers up to $832 a year

By David Crowe
22 October 2018 — 11:59pm
Australians will be promised new laws to slash up to $832 from their annual electricity bills in another federal government move to toughen rules for big energy companies and demonstrate action on household costs.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor will outline new laws to set a default offer price for millions of consumers, in a long-awaited response to calls from regulators for the new mechanism to put pressure on suppliers.
Mr Taylor will promise the default offer will ensure customers are not being "exploited" because they stay on the standing offer from their suppliers rather than shopping around for a better deal.

ACTU wants a return to the dark days of mass union militancy

By Kelly O'Dwyer
23 October 2018 — 12:00am
Today we are being given a glimpse of the bleak industrial relations landscape future in Australia were there to be a change of government next year.
Thousands of construction and other workers will have walked off work sites, in many cases ordered to leave their work sites, to take part in a protest designed to overturn the laws that govern Australia’s workplaces.
What do they want?
They want there to be no rules. No regulator. And no check on their power.

Coal's days are numbered, top government adviser says

By Adam Carey, Cole Latimer & Nick Toscano
22 October 2018 — 6:28pm
The federal government's top energy adviser Kerry Schott says the plunging cost of renewables will force Australia's remaining coal plants to close even earlier than planned, as mining giant BHP renewed calls for a price on carbon to urgently slash national emissions.
The Morrison government's failure to produce an emissions reduction plan for the electricity sector and general inaction on climate change have been credited with helping to drive a massive negative swing in the Wentworth byelection, which is expected to cost it the seat and force it into minority government.
The nation's energy ministers are due to meet in Sydney on Friday to discuss the Morrison government's bid to lower prices and improve reliability. Efforts to cut greenhouse gas emitted by electricity generators are not on the agenda.

Coalition faces generational wipeout

  • 11:00PM October 22, 2018
The arguments that the Liberal disaster in Wentworth means Scott Morrison now has to adjust government policy to embrace new climate change approaches, take asylum-seekers immediately off Nauru and reject conservative policies, or ignore the loss as an ­aberration, are equally delusional.
Adopting one extreme of Liberal policy to the exclusion of the other is madness.
Pretending Wentworth is not somehow a Liberal seat or its loss doesn’t count is counter-­productive and self-destructive for the Coalition.

Main parties are divided because we are divided

  • 11:00PM October 23, 2018
The deeper lesson from the Wentworth by-election is the rising tribalisation of Australian politics and culture — as Wentworth’s values become more distant from Longman’s values — and the shared compact that binds Australia ­together begins to disintegrate.
For a Liberal Party and Nationals Coalition that represents some of the poorest and some of richest seats in this country, this poses a challenge that has stretched to breaking point the common ground between Coalition conservatives and progressives.
The divisions in the nation become reflected as divisions in the governing parties. The Coalition parties did not divide between conservatives and progressives in a fit of absence of mind. They divided because their own constituents are divided. When your supporters believe in different principles then your political party is in trouble. You can no longer satisfy everybody. This is the crisis of the Liberal Party in 2018 and for much of the 2013-18 era.
  • Oct 24 2018 at 9:38 AM

Why it was easy to get 2018 property prices predictions so wrong

A lot can change in a year, particular the trajectory of Australia's house prices.
Midway through 2017, competitive bidders with a strong fear of missing out, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, were continuing to drive up prices, often by hundreds of thousands of dollars over reserve.
At that point, several of the country's top economists made predictions about where property prices would head in 2018.
  • Updated Oct 23 2018 at 7:33 PM

Scott Morrison tries to tame the political price of energy

Coalition MPs still seem determined to make an unpalatable political hash of the government's much battered energy policy. So the latest demand from some moderate Liberals of an extra $1 billion to be put aside for the Emissions Reduction Fund has all the hallmarks of a counter-productive initiative that would satisfy no one.
It undermines the government's insistence the Paris emissions reduction target will be easily met in the energy sector without any need to mandate a particular percentage. It distracts attention from the Coalition's latest announcement (re-announcement) of a default price for customers as a way of bringing down prices. It would bring conservatives out swinging in another demonstration of the intractable internal divisions in the party over renewables versus coal. And it will be derided as an absurdly inferior option to the alternative options destined to reduce emissions under the original National Energy Guarantee, now dumped.
Yet Scott Morrison didn't so much puncture this particular trial balloon as keep it aloft in a conveniently distant sky. He had never ruled this out, according to the Prime Minister, while adding any such measure would be considered as part of the normal budgetary process next year.

Australia's economic outlook is looking a whole lot gloomier

Oct 24, 2018, 10:07 AM
  • Momentum in the Australian economy appears to be slowing, and fast.
  • Activity levels in Australia’s services and manufacturing sectors improved at the slowest pace since May 2016 in October, according to the Commonwealth bank’s “flash” composite PMI.
  • Hiring levels remain strong. However, with activity softening and confidence at the lowest levels in years, whether that can continue remains uncertain.
The positive momentum the Australian economy enjoyed in the first half of the year now looks to be reversing, and fast.
Worryingly, the slowdown is being entirely driven by the services sector, the largest employer in the country.
The Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA) “flash” Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for September, produced in conjunction with IHS Markit, dipped to 51.2 in October, the lowest level since the survey first began two-and-a-half years ago.

PM faces war on all fronts

Scott Morrison faces a herculean task over the next seven months, if indeed he even gets that long before the next general election.
October 22, 2018
Scott Morrison faces a herculean task over the next seven months, if indeed he gets that long before the next general election. The Prime Minister risks being mugged by the realities of a hung parliament, forcing an early election. But that seems unlikely.
The Coalition is more likely to go full term, facing voters in May, after state elections in Victoria next month and NSW in March.
In the wake of the historic (likely) defeat in the once ultra-safe Sydney seat of Wentworth to independent Kerryn Phelps, Morrison needs to find a way to hold the Liberal Party factions together, appease tensions with reactionary commentators out to damage the government and prevent panic setting in among marginal-seat colleagues in the Coalition.

The signs are gathering for a Wall Street crash

By Marcus Padley
23 October 2018 — 3:31pm
It is different walking into the office. As it was in February. “How many points was Wall Street down,” a colleague says as he walks in this week. That morning the Dow Jones was down 127. The assumption that markets will fall instead of rise is a rare state of mind in the broking world, it only happens in a bear market. Of course nobody knows if a bear market has started, but the fact we are discussing it is a sign. The 7.8 per cent fall in the market is another.
Those that declare a bear market are reckless to do so, their hollow predictions no matter how confident and no matter how eloquently expressed, are little more than attention-grabbing guesswork, and somewhat irresponsible. But financial market commentators know that "calling the crash", no matter how unfounded, attracts attention. It gets hits to run against the herd and invoke fear, it gets hits to suggest everything is going to hell, so someone will always want to do it.
Despite that, an independent, agenda-less viewpoint, delivered without fear, is always interesting and of value, even when wrong. This is how commentators like Marc Faber and Nouriel Roubini have survived for so long despite being so repetitively wrong, because they are independent, free speakers and, of course, just occasionally, when the market tips over, they can claim the high ground and shout “I told you so”. Someone has to sit at the bearish end of the market’s bell curve of opinion and someone has to provide the devil’s viewpoint. It is a good space to occupy because there are not a lot of people there, so you stand out more easily.

Foreign spies are infiltrating Australia, with ‘unprecedented’ espionage and interference activities

CHINA has a concerning plan to infiltrate and interfere with Australia at the highest levels. And it has national security experts on high alert.
Shannon Molloy
news.com.au October 24, 201811:51am

ASIO and police ramping up efforts against spies

ESPIONAGE and political interference by foreign powers is at unprecedented levels in Australia and poses a major risk to security, the nation’s spy agency boss has warned.
Duncan Lewis, the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday that he was concerned about escalating activities.
“Hostile intelligence poses a real and potential existential threat to Australian security and sovereignty,” Mr Lewis said.
  • Updated Oct 24 2018 at 10:42 AM

BlackRock argues markets akin to a late-stage game of Jenga

Global markets are showing signs of being in the late stages of a game of Jenga, and investors need to play cautiously, argue two BlackRock executives.
Jenga is a game in which players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Each block removed is then placed on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller, yet more unstable, structure.
The game ends when the tower falls and the loser is the person who made it fall.
"To us, the 2018 investing regime is evolving much like a late-stage game of Jenga, with the Federal Reserve and Treasury clinically and methodically removing the blocks of stability from underneath the financial and real economy 'towers'," wrote Rick Reider and Russell Brownback.
  • Oct 25 2018 at 9:45 AM

Your guide to all the reasons markets are tanking

London/New York | Global markets have suffered a frightful October, with the latest tumble taking the FTSE All-World index's loss this month so far to a whopping 7.2 per cent — its worst performance since the peak of the eurozone crisis in 2012.
Of the global equity benchmark's 3,211 members, almost a third have now lost more than 20 per cent of their value this year in US dollar terms. Well over half are down at least 10 per cent, and as of the end of Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT), only 853 companies were still in positive territory for 2018.
Investor pain has been widespread. The only major asset classes to remain in the green this year are the equities of large US companies, and US junk bonds. Aside from those two classes, investors have suffered losses in almost every major corner of financial markets in 2018.

Frightening category 5+ Typhoon Yutu ravaging US islands at 290km/h

By Ian Livingston
25 October 2018 — 9:58am
The earth's strongest storm this year is striking US territories in the western Pacific Ocean.
A strengthening Super Typhoon Yutu, with sustained winds of 290km/h, is on a trek through the Northern Mariana Islands.
The storm is roaring across the islands of Saipan and Tinian, both US territories, and will become one of the most intense storms - if not the most - on record to hit the US.
Meteorologist Brandon Aydlett says the US National Weather Service has received reports Yutu's catastrophic winds ripped roofs from houses and blew out windows.

Directors' doom and gloom should be wake-up call for Canberra

By Elizabeth Knight
25 October 2018 — 12:05am
The latest Australian Institute of Company Directors report on sentiment should be a wake-up call for Canberra. Well over half of board directors are increasingly pessimistic about the impact the government’s performance (read the coalition government) is having on their business decision-making.
While this policy stasis is really starting to concern the business community there is also nervousness among the investors that a Bill Shorten-led Labor government would be worse for the corporate community. Indeed the ‘Shorten trade’ or the Shorten Short’, is being identified as one of the big factors  feeding into the poor performance of the stock market.
In other words, the business community is faced with a future of a party that has demonstrated an inability to proffer any coherent policy on the two vitally important issues of energy and climate change and another party they worry will over-regulate on key areas of property, healthcare and financial services.

Climate change issue adds to corporate heat on government

  • 11:00PM October 24, 2018
Business desperation with the incompetence of Canberra was underlined by the latest AICD survey showing climate change as the No 1 issue directors want the government to address.
This was followed by an ageing population, energy policy, tax and infrastructure, which are items you would normally expect the directors’ club to worry about.
Just why the AICD members would nominate this issue says something about the wider base included in the organisation, who are not just the top 100 boards gathered at the club smoking cigars, drinking port and muttering about politics and business regulation.

House prices affected by many factors, some uncontrollable

  • By Nerida Conisbee
  • 11:00PM October 24, 2018
There are a large number of factors influencing the outlook for Australian property, some we can control and some we can’t, and it’s the ones we can’t that we need to be concerned about. Government policy and regulation is something that is within our influence, rising interest rates or a shutdown in global economic growth less so.
There are two areas where government can influence house prices. The first is through the recommendations from the financial services royal commission and the second is through policy towards property investors, in particular negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.
The royal commission is already moderating the market. House prices in overheated Sydney have been coming back for over a year now and Melbourne is also seeing declines. But in almost every other capital city, prices are still growing, albeit at a slower rate than they otherwise probably would be.
  • Oct 25 2018 at 11:38 AM

Australians should heed the lessons of America's political violence

Washington | America's referendum on Donald Trump just got dangerous.
Discovery of a series of potentially lethal pipe-bombs sent to the Clintons, Obamas and others - including, earlier in the week, billionaire philanthropist George Soros - comes after weeks and months of rising heat.
Both sides bear responsibility for stoking the animus that cripples America's democracy, makes bipartisanship impossible, and brings out the worst in one of the world's finest nations.
Police are hunting the person or people who sent the bombs and are yet to determine motives.
  • Updated Oct 25 2018 at 5:36 PM

Why this sell-off could be about to get a lot worse

The howls of pain that echoed through the US share market on Wednesday night weren't just a reaction to the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P500 plunging into the red for 2018. Bad as their portfolio losses may be, investors were even more dismayed to discover that their favourite investment strategies are no longer working.
"Buying the dip" – that is, ploughing money into the S&P500 whenever it has suffered a down week – has been a foolproof and highly profitable game plan for investors since the financial crisis. But this year, the strategy has backfired, leaving aggrieved investors nursing unwelcome losses.
One reason it's no longer working is that the world's major central banks have now changed tack after a near-decade of money-printing and zero interest rates. As they've reversed their extraordinary monetary stimulus, the flood of liquidity has pulled back, and interest rates have moved higher.

Not one government official was consulted about Australia's major Israel foreign policy shift

By David Wroe
Just after lunchtime on Monday last week, the head of Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department, Frances Adamson, took a call about the government’s planned Jerusalem announcement.
Public servants, even the most seasoned, aren’t unimpeachable, but they are the government’s bedrock for advice on major and complex issues.
So it must have been a surprise for the nation’s most senior diplomat that the call from Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s office wasn’t so much asking for her input as letting her know a decision had been made.

Average super fund member could be $400,000 better off, report finds

By Jessica Irvine
27 October 2018 — 12:00am
More than two in five superannuation funds responsible for administering 4 million "MySuper" default accounts are "underperforming" - delivering lower returns to members than if the money was simply invested in passive benchmark indexes.
As part of its major inquiry into Australia's $2.7 trillion superannuation system, the Productivity Commission released updated modelling on Friday which revealed 29 super funds are underperforming on their MySuper accounts, up from its previous estimate of 20 funds.
More alarmingly, using a more stringent benchmark, the Commission has slashed its estimate of the number of funds delivering above benchmark returns from 47 funds to just 26. The number of member accounts enjoying above benchmark returns has also been slashed from 9.8 million to 7.2 million.

Who is the 'base' the conservative faction of the Liberal Party keep talking about?

By Nick O'Malley
27 October 2018 — 12:00am
It was not so long ago that when Liberal Party politicians addressed the public they spoke of the party’s broad church, and when they called for voters to join this congregation, they insisted that it was to become part of what John Howard used to call “mainstream Australia”.
Not so much anymore.
When the Liberal Party dumped Malcolm Turnbull in August the coup leaders and their backers in conservative media justified the blood by declaring that Turnbull had lost touch with the party’s “base” and that without it he could not hope to win the coming election.

World growth a toxic danger for the environment

By Ross Gittins
27 October 2018 — 12:05am
If the world’s population keeps growing, and the poor world’s living standards keep catching up with the rich world’s, how on earth will the environment cope with the huge increase in extraction, processing and disposal of material resources?
It’s a question many people wonder and worry about – without much sign it’s even crossed the mind of the world’s governments.
Until now. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is about to publish a Global Material Resources Outlook, which uses much fancy modelling to make an educated guess about what’s likely to happen in the future.

How I learned to stop worrying and love a big sharemarket downturn

By Thomas Heath
27 October 2018 — 12:32pm
I got an email from a reader who had put a bunch of money into an investment fund in September and then watched helplessly as the stock market ghouls of October did their dirty work.
"I have not been sleeping," said the reader, whose email arrived on a gloomy Thursday morning, after a bloodbath in the stock market on Wednesday. "Feeling guilty for chasing the market. Being one of those who felt 'missing out.' "
 (Note to readers, in all seriousness: If you are losing sleep over market swings, then you should probably not own stocks.)

Markets weren't ready: The sledgehammer blow that triggered this rout

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
27 October 2018 — 11:15am
The October rout on global stock markets is the delayed sting from monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve and fellow central banks. Quantitative easing is winding down fast. The measures to stimulate the economy peaked at an annual rate of $US2 trillion in 2016. They will be negative by the end of this year.
The Fed is shrinking its balance sheet by $US50 billion ($2.8 billion) a month. The European Central Bank has tapered bond purchases from €80 billion ($129 billion) to €15 billion a month, and will end its programme altogether in December.
The precise trigger for the 10 per cent mini-crash starting three weeks ago was a warning by Fed chairman Jay Powell that the world's superpower central bank planned to push interest above the "neutral rate" to prevent overheating.

Equity bull market may be over as bond boom ends and central bank liquidity dries up

  • 11:00PM October 26, 2018
Before we start with the sighing about the sharemarket this year, that 2018 has been a bust, and the forebodings about what might happen from here, let’s just acknowledge that the 20-year total return from the ASX 200 accumulation index is currently 8.5 per cent per annum. Before the start of October it was 9.1 per cent.
Dividends have delivered 4.5 per cent per annum on average, capital growth 4 per cent, although it also should be acknowledged that the index first hit its current level between Christmas and New Year 2006, so no worries about capital gains taxes on ASX 200 ETF for 12 years.
Still, not too shabby, as they say. And that includes the global financial crisis, don’t forget — it took the accumulation index six years to regain its October 2007 peak, and the index itself still hasn’t.

Women shun financial advisers in favour of money advice from robots

By Nina Hendy
28 October 2018 — 12:00am
Robo-advisers are reporting a substantial spike in the number of female investors, citing a "perfect storm" of the fallout from the banking royal commission and the empowerment of the #Metoo movement.
Six Park reveals that accounts held solely by women have more than doubled in recent months to sit at 40 per cent, up from 20 per cent in January. The firm delivers financial advice online using algorithms and technology in place of a human financial adviser.
The greatest number of Six Park accounts are held by 26-35-year-olds and 35-50-year-olds. Average account sizes are $31,761 and $43,342 respectively. Across all ages, the average amount invested by females is almost $55,000.

Financial Services Royal Commission Issues.

  • Updated Oct 22 2018 at 7:02 AM

Westpac whistleblower reports poor risk culture and 'coverups' to APRA

A Westpac risk manager claims to have been ignored and bullied for raising red flags on alleged shortcomings on a technology project at the bank.
The Westpac staff member, who requested anonymity and has reported the matter to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and SafeWork NSW, said his treatment was an example of a poor risk culture at Westpac, including covering up bad news and ostracising staff who raise problems via official reporting channels.
"I don't trust HR will protect me, but I am just doing my job," the risk manager said. "I want to do my job properly and I don't expect to be abused for doing it."
  • Updated Oct 21 2018 at 11:00 PM

Calls for APRA, ASIC to answer to mega regulator to end the banking scandals

The corporate and prudential regulators have become culturally and intellectually captured by the banks and should be made to answer to a UK-style financial oversight committee, a forthcoming Federal Law Review paper argues.
The University of Wollongong's Professor Andy Schmulow says the regulators must be held to account. He castigates the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for its co-operative approach to regulation and says the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has become little more than a cheerleader for bank profits.
"What we've seen with ASIC and APRA is two regulators who have actively colluded with criminality conducted on a industrial scale. It is widespread, it is endemic and it is systemic," Professor Schmulow said.

'Not a nickel and dime conversation': ASIC needs to be bigger, chief tells parliament

By Sarah Danckert
A bigger Australian Securities and Investments Commission will be better equipped to deal with banking misconduct driven in part by a lack of competition, the head of the corporate regulator says.
ASIC chairman James Shipton told Senate Estimates on Wednesday evening that ASIC needed to grow, not just in terms of funding but also in terms of capabilities.
 “What we now need is a constructive conversation about the powers, positioning and right-sizing of ASIC,” Mr Shipton said.
Mr Shipton recently called on the government to pass legislation that would dramatically beef up the regulator's powers and the penalties that could be slapped on companies breaking the law.

Labor fails to answer Hayne inquiry policy questions

  • October 26, 2018
Labor appears to have ignored the instructions of banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne for submissions in response to his interim report, opting instead to promote its own banking victim “roundtable” rather than answer policy questions put forward by the former High Court judge.
In its submission to the royal commission, publicly released today, Labor said it was concerned the inquiry did not focus on the way banks had used highly-paid lawyers to silence customers who complained.
The submission, made jointly by Labor leader Bill Shorten, opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen and opposition financial services spokeswoman Clare O’Neil, drew on stories told to ALP politicians by people who attended 15 roundtables across Australia.

National Budget Issues.

Exceptions become the new rule for budget repair

By Eryk Bagshaw
22 October 2018 — 12:01am
Who needs rules, eh?
Less worthy than a law, but tighter than a guideline, they are designed to keep kids from mucking around in class and elected officials to higher standards than the rest of us.
So when a Prime Minister gets up and says well they are rules until they aren’t: That’s a problem. It fuels distrust in our institutions and shakes the faith of voters.
Scott Morrison did that last week.
“As with those rules in the past, where there are exceptions to those rules, the government reserves the right to exercise that discretion, but they are the rules,” he said.

NDIS funds to be 'repurposed' for drought relief under Morrison plan

By Dana McCauley
26 October 2018 — 6:43pm
Disability advocates have slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to "repurpose" $3.9 billion originally set aside for the NDIS to pay for drought relief, but the plan has been cautiously welcomed by farmers.
Mr Morrison unveiled his $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a summit attended by farmers, economists, industry bodies and state and federal ministers in Canberra on Friday, promising measures to drought-proof the nation's agriculture sector.
The first $3.9 billion of the scheme, which would operate similarly to the Medical Future Fund, is to be paid for out of a pool of money originally intended for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Health Issues.

Lucas Heights nuclear medical facility ‘unsafe’

  • 11:00PM October 21, 2018
There is a “make do and mend” culture at the Australian government’s nuclear medical facility at Lucas Heights, which fails modern nuclear safety standards and should be replaced by the government or rebuilt with contributions from the private sector, according to an independent report to be published today.
The report follows a safety failure inside the facility that was deemed the most serious in the world in 2017: in August last year, a nuclear medicine technician’s hands were contaminated through two pairs of gloves at the Lucas Heights facility known as Building 23 or B23, one of 80 run at the site by the federal ­government’s Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The worker dropped a vial while trying to decap it, suffered blisters and is now at a higher risk of cancer.

Batten down the hatches

The Guild defends its Chronic Pain MedsCheck Trial after further criticism, this time from a leading Australian pain specialist body

The Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists has called on the federal government to reconsider its support of a $20 million trial that funds pain assessments by pharmacists.
In a release, the college says it fears the trial “promotes medication as the only option to relieve chronic pain”.
Dr Meredith Craigie, Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, has written to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt expressing concern that the government’s Chronic Pain MedsCheck scheme has been introduced with no input from specialist pain medicine physicians.
  • Oct 23 2018 at 9:07 AM

Radiotherapy extends life for men with incurable, advanced prostate cancer

by Jill Margo
Results from the world's largest prostate cancer trial are set to change the way thousands of Australian men, with an advanced form of the disease, are managed.
The trial involved more than 2000 men who, on being diagnosed for the first time, discovered they had metastatic cancer.
This means their disease had not only spread locally around the prostate but had travelled into distant parts of the body, often the bones.

Why aged-care costs will rise after royal commission

  • By John Rawling
  • 11:00PM October 22, 2018
All three listed aged-care companies — Regis, Japara and Estia — are due to hold their annual general meetings over the next six weeks (Regis on October 25, Japara on October 31 and Estia on November 29) and the CEOs of each (Ross Johnston, Andrew Sudholz and Norah Barlow respectively) will no doubt be expecting plenty of awkward questions from shareholders about how the forthcoming royal commission into the aged-care industry may affect their shares.
Already the CEOs are under pressure from significant falls in share prices since they peaked in late 2015: Estia’s shares have fallen from $7.25 to $2.16, Japara’s from $3.35 to $1.21, and Regis’s from $6 to $2.58.
The ABC’s recent Four Corners program, which broadcast a range of harrowing stories about systematic poor treatment of elderly people in a variety of aged-care homes in Australia and the manifest failure of the regulators to address the issue, is sure to anger many shareholders, some of whom will have family members in such facilities.

Sydney suburbs dragging down Australia's record vaccination rates

By Kate Aubusson
23 October 2018 — 11:59pm
Australia childhood vaccination rates have risen to record levels in defiance of vaccine-resistant strongholds, the latest national figures show.
The national immunisation rate for five-year-olds rose to 94.62 per cent in September, up from 94.42 per cent in June, according to the Australian Immunisation Register data.
The data confirmed Australia's vaccination rates were continuing their steady rise and inching closer to its 95 per cent immunisation coverage target.
But in some vaccine-resistant strongholds, as many as one in 10 children were unvaccinated or had missed at least one vaccine on the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Health experts slam government's 'contemptuous' IPCC report response

By Peter Hannam
25 October 2018 — 7:08am
Almost two dozen leading Australian health experts have blasted the Morrison government's "contemptuous dismissal" of the findings of the latest major climate report and called for a rapid phasing out of coal.
In a letter published on Thursday in The Lancet, a leading international health journal, the academics and health professionals said the government had ignored the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's special 1.5 degree impact report.
In doing so, it had disregarded "any duty of care regarding the future wellbeing of Australians and our immediate neighbours", the letter states.

States threaten hospital funding war over $600m 'recalculation'

By Dana McCauley
25 October 2018 — 6:08pm
A dispute between the Commonwealth and the states and territories over health funding has reached critical mass, after the Federal Government refused to reverse a recalculation that will claw back more than $600 million allocated to hospitals and health services over the past financial year.
Furious state and territory ministers have reached across party lines to unanimously oppose what they see as an effective budget cut, and will now escalate the matter by exercising a dispute resolution clause in the National Health Reform Agreement.
States and territories learned last month that the Commonwealth's funding determination for 2016-17 contained a retrospective adjustment that resulted in a $609.3 million reduction in Commonwealth funding entitlements to the states and territories in 2018-19.

NSW pharmacists get go-ahead to give measles, whooping cough vaccines

By Kate Aubusson
26 October 2018 — 12:00am
People as young as 16 will soon be able to go to a pharmacist for vaccinations to protect against infectious diseases including measles, whooping cough and tetanus without visiting a doctor.
The NSW government is expanding the state's pharmacist vaccination program beyond the flu shot to ease access to immunisation, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced on Thursday.
From 2019, pharmacists will be able to administer privately funded diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (dTpa) vaccine; the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) as well as the flu vaccine after completing an approved comprehensive training course.

Caesarean rates soar with doctors 'less prepared to take risks'

By Aisha Dow
25 October 2018 — 6:19pm
Almost half of births in some Australian hospitals are by caesarean section, as fewer labours proceed naturally, and even more are subject to surgical or instrumental intervention.
Rates of caesarean section have reached a record high – at close to 30 per cent for first time mothers aged 20 to 34, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
And the procedure is even more common in private hospitals.

Economy will gain from successful treatments in dealing with pain

  • 11:00PM October 25, 2018
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”. The first part of the definition is most valid for this column, and has gained an increasing amount of attention since it was first settled on 54 years ago.
The second part of the definition is perhaps what allows us to declare people, activities and even ideas as painful (for example, the commentators and politicians involved in the Wentworth
by-election gave painful explanations of what happened). For those in pain, particularly long-term, chronic pain, there is nothing trivial about their experience and medicine needs more evidence, options and success stories to provide relief. Pain specialists are best placed to advise, but for those who haven’t made their acquaintance it must seem like the evidence and options keep changing and success is elusive.

Westmead Hospital ICU stripped of training accreditation over alleged bullying

By Kate Aubusson
26 October 2018 — 4:37pm
Westmead Hospital's ICU has been stripped of training accreditation in an unprecedented response to bullying and harassment allegations made against senior medical staff.
The College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM) revoked the major hospital's ICU training accreditation, in an extraordinary indictment of the hospital’s inability to provide an appropriate teaching environment for CICM trainee doctors.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was made aware of the issue on Thursday and called the hospital's senior manager into his office on Friday seeking "in the strongest terms how this could have occurred."

Delays hold back nuclear medicine

  • 11:00PM October 26, 2018
Australia’s production of nuclear medicine is in disarray, with a promised world-class manufacturing plant running two years behind schedule, unresolved questions over waste management, and broader concerns over ageing facilities and safety issues at Lucas Heights.
A conveyor breakdown in June at building 23 — where a ­series of safety incidents prompted a damning independent review — has caused ongoing supply issues throughout Australia and overseas.
The Weekend Australian has learned the existing plant will not be able to resume full domestic production of generators until next year. Amid the disruptions, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has been forced to import generators and trade local ingredients with an American producer. It is refusing to detail how much the inefficient workaround is costing.

Revenge and ruin: plastic surgeons beware these 'red-flag' patients

By Kate Aubusson
28 October 2018 — 12:00am
There is a group of patients no plastic surgeon should treat - for the patient’s sake and their own.
They’re the patients who need a psychologist, not a face lift, and will seek revenge on the plastic surgeon who fails to fix their nonexistent physical flaws.
This was the stark warning delivered by social worker and researcher Roberta Honigman at the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS)’ Breast Masters Symposium in Sydney this month.

International Issues.

  • Updated Oct 21 2018 at 5:24 PM

Analysts warn of 'peak growth' for US earnings and economy

Data to be released in the coming days and weeks will show corporate earnings and economic activity in the United States likely peaked in the most recent quarter, analysts warn.
The US September quarterly profit reporting season has started well, with 87 per cent of results exceeding profit expectations and close to two-thirds beating on revenue, according to AMP Capital.
While still early in the season – only 85 of the top 500 listed businesses have reported – profits look like they will yet again beat market expectations to grow at 24 per cent year-on-year. A further 160 S&P 500 firms release quarterly profit updates this week, according to Bloomberg.
  • Oct 22 2018 at 9:10 AM

Donald Trump to dismantle a 1987 nuclear missile treaty that helped end the Cold War

Washington | Donald Trump has been slammed by European allies, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and senior US Republicans for threatening to scrap a critical nuclear disarmament pact between the US and Russia that helped end the Cold War.
Almost 31 years after signing the deal - known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF - Mr Trump declared Russia had "violated" the agreement over many years and the US would now withdraw.
"We're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we're not allowed to," Mr Trump said after a campaign rally in Nevada over the weekend.
"Russia has not, unfortunately, honoured the agreement. So we're going to terminate the agreement. We're gonna pull out."
  • Updated Oct 21 2018 at 12:28 PM

BlackRock: a vast money machine splutters

by Robin Wigglesworth
New York | When Larry Fink went to the capitalist carnival in the snow otherwise known as Davos in January, he was a man on top of his world.
BlackRock, the company he founded in 1988, was comfortably the biggest investment group on the planet, with more than $US6trn of assets under management. During a record-shattering 2017, the group managed to pull in more than $US1b a day from investors. Its shares hit a record high on the eve of Davos, and a public letter Mr Fink sent to fellow chief executives exhorting them to ensure their companies had a social purpose was the talk of the conclave.
"I didn't know Larry Fink had been made God," said an irritated Sam Zell, the billionaire property investor who took exception to the letter.
  • Oct 23 2018 at 9:44 AM

Donald Trump embodies the spirit of our age

by Gideon Rachman
When Donald Trump spoke at the UN last month, the audience laughed at him. It was an unprecedented insult to an American president. But I have an uneasy suspicion that Mr Trump may have the last laugh.
The 45th US president could yet go down as a leader who changed the course of history and embodied the spirit of an age.
Historic figures do not have to be good people, or even particularly intelligent.

Trump's missile treaty pullout as much about China as Russia

By Phil Stewart
24 October 2018 — 5:43am
Washington: A US withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
US officials have been warning for years that the United States was being put at a disadvantage by China's development of increasingly sophisticated land-based missile forces, which the Pentagon could not match thanks to the US treaty with Russia.
President Donald Trump has signaled he may soon give the Pentagon a freer hand to confront those advances, if he makes good on threats to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required elimination of short- and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles.
  • Updated Oct 25 2018 at 4:56 AM

Britain will not be ready for a no-deal Brexit: National Audit Office

London | The British government, which is confronting the growing spectre of crashing out of the European Union without a deal, has been warned it no longer has enough time to prepare its borders for a hard Brexit and will have to cut corners to keep the £423 billion ($776 billion) of annual Britain-EU trade flowing.
The government's own National Audit Office said the Border Force would be unable to hire enough staff in time, and 11 of the dozen critical IT systems required at the border were "at risk of not delivering on time and to acceptable quality" by March 29 next year, the date Britain leaves the EU.
Infrastructure to track goods and to physically examine them at ports would also not be in place by then, so customs and border officials "may not be able to fully enforce compliance regimes at the border on day one" and the system would be "less than optimal", according to the watchdog's assessment released on Wednesday.

After newsroom receives bomb, CNN boss slams White House attacks

25 October 2018 — 11:24am
Aggressive rhetoric aimed at political opponents and the press in the US is being blamed for a wave of pipe bombs being sent to people including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
New York:
CNN chief Jeff Zucker has criticised the White House for a "total and complete lack of understanding" of the seriousness of its attacks on the media, as his network's New York bureau was evacuated for five hours following the discovery of an explosive device sent there.
Feelings were raw at the cable network because of a what it believed was a reluctance by the administration to discuss CNN as one of the targets of crude devices sent to political leaders, and the delivery of a fundraising email that attacked CNN that arrived in in-boxes of supporters as the story unfolded.
"The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter," said Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. "Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that."

Explosive devices sent to politicians were absolutely predictable

By Paul Waldman
25 October 2018 — 6:34am
There are three common responses we'll be hearing as people try to understand and contextualise reports of explosive devices being sent to prominent Democratic critics of US President Donald Trump, as well as CNN.
The first is to say that it's Trump's fault, as many American liberals will do. The second is to say that it means nothing and has nothing to do with Trump, as many conservatives will do. And the third is to blame it on broad forces that float about the country with no particular partisan pull, such as "polarisation" or "division" or "anger."
These US midterms could be the most consequential in our lifetime. Digital foreign editor Chris Zappone unpacks why.

Why Wall Street's tumble is bad news for Trump

By Damian Paletta and Danielle Paquette
25 October 2018 — 11:09am
US stock markets fell sharply Wednesday, erasing all gains for the year and muddying one of President Donald Trump's favourite talking points two weeks before the midterm elections.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.4 per cent Wednesday, its worst one-day drop since the financial crisis. The index has slid more than 12 per cent since the end of August. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, which tracks a broader group of US companies, has lost $US2 trillion ($2.8 trillion) in value since late September, down 9 per cent. The Dow Jones industrial average, meanwhile, lost 608 points Wednesday and is down 8.3 per cent in the past three weeks.
The financial swoon threatens to undermine a market rise for which Trump has frequently claimed credit and to highlight controversial aspects of Trump's agenda, including tariffs many companies are blaming for their struggles and a tax cut that polls suggest the public views as inadequately helpful for the middle class.
  • Updated Oct 25 2018 at 11:00 PM

It's the culture, stupid: how Trump has changed the game

by David Brooks
Donald Trump and the other populists around the world have transformed politics in three gigantic ways. First, they told a different narrative. Their central story is the good, decent people of the heartland are being threatened by immigrants, foreigners and other outsiders while corrupt elites do nothing.
Second, Trump and the other populists have overturned the traditional moral standards for how leaders are supposed to behave. He's challenged basic norms of honesty, decency, compassion and moral conduct. He unabashedly exploits rifts in American society.
Third, they have ushered in a new conversation. In the 20th century the big debate was big government versus small government. Now, as many have noticed, the core debate is open versus closed. Do you favour basic openness, diversity and pluralism, or do you favour closed ethnic nationalism?

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting leaves several dead, official says

By John Altdorfer
Updated 28 October 2018 — 6:33am first published at 2:34am
Pittsburgh: A gunman yelling, “All Jews must die” stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday services, killing at least 11 people and wounding six others, including four police officers, before he was arrested.
"It's a very horrific crime scene, one of the worst that I've seen," Pittsburgh public safety director Wendell Hissrich told a news conference near the scene.
"This falls under hate crime," he said, adding there was no active threat to the community and that the shooter had been taken to a hospital.
Local television cited police sources as saying the gunman walked into the building and yelled “All Jews must die”.

Japan is China’s partner and no longer its aid donor, says Abe

By Steven Lee Myers and Motoko Rich
27 October 2018 — 4:41pm
Beijing: It has been eight years since China overtook Japan as the world's second-largest economy. Yet the Japanese government has continued to provide China with development assistance usually reserved for poorer countries. Until now.
In Beijing for the first official visit by a Japanese leader since 2011, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged China's economic dominance by announcing an end to the aid. Instead, he pledged to forge deeper economic and political co-operation, in what is widely seen as a hedge against the volatile, America-first policies of President Donald Trump.
The announcement — coupled with new co-operation agreements Abe signed on Friday with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang — signalled a significant shift in a relationship that has been haunted by war and occupation and is still strained by territorial disputes and other issues, which, publicly at least, have receded into the background.
I look forward to comments on all this!

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