Quote Of The Year

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


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

Thursday, December 20, 2018

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

December 20, 2018 Edition.
It has been a busy week n Trump land with the Chief of Staff and the Interior Secretary leaving, and the Special Counsel apparently very close to his final report. Or and Trump’s fixer has dumped on him big time accusing him of criminality ++++. Trump is presently exploding with anger with the US Federal Reserve having raised interest rates against his wishes.
Brexit seems to be going to a second referendum if I read the tea leaves correctly. He vote in Parliament is now happening mid-January!
In OZ we have a New GG (David Hurley – ex NSW Governor) and the ALP Conference to catch up on. Happening as I type on Sunday. The ALP has stayed nicely together while the National Party seems to have imploded on the basis of some excess testosterone!

Major Issues.

'Prepare contingency plans': OECD warns Coalition government on falling house prices

By Shane Wright
10 December 2018 — 7:38am
The Australian economy could be dragged down by a house price crash so widespread the federal government would have to prop up some of the nation's biggest banks, the OECD has warned.
In a major departure from its past assessments of the Australian economy, the Paris-based think tank has cautioned the Morrison government to start planning now for a house-price induced downward spiral that would end the nation's unparalleled run of growth.
Every 18 months the OECD speaks to key players in the Australian economy, delivering a snapshot of current trends and what may be ahead.

Threat to good times, says OECD

By John Kehoe Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 8:22 AM, first published at 6:00 AM
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned that a "hard landing" in the housing market could end Australia's long period of above-average economic performance, as it urged a build up budget surpluses, overdue tax reform and stable energy policy to underpin the next phase of growth.
The 128-page economic analysis is being released Monday morning as the minority Morrison government clings to power and bickers with Labor at the end of the parliamentary year over asylum seekers and gay people in schools.
The OECD harks back to the major economic reforms largely undertaken in the 1980s and 1990s by the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments as a key ingredient to Australia's economic success and the "move towards a more market-based economy"

Coalition trails Labor 45-55 in Newspoll

By Aaron Patrick Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 9:11 AM, first published at 8:06 AM
The federal Coalition trails the Labor Opposition 45 to 55 per cent in the latest Newspoll, a big and consistent gap that suggests the removal of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cost the government half a million votes.
Before the week that toppled Australia's twenty-ninth prime minister, the Coalition's support on a two-party preferred basis was 49 per cent, according to a Newspoll published Monday morning.
In the eight Newspolls since, Coalition support has averaged 45.25 per cent, a difference of 534,825 votes based on the 14.2 million votes cast in the 2016 House of Representatives election.

Saved by the Christmas bells? No, grim fate awaits Scott Morrison and his team

  • 10:40PM December 9, 2018
Scott Morrison and every member and senator of the Coalition can take little comfort from the fact that the parliament has shut down for the Christmas holidays.
During the Hawke/Keating years, ministers would take just two or three weeks off before resuming their duties. This Christmas the mobile phones of our political elite will be running hot. They will desperately try to come up with a new, brilliant plan to rescue them from the grim fate which the election promises.
The problem is that no solution is apparent and none appears about to emerge from under the rock it has been hiding beneath.
Some Liberals are clinging to the belief that an April budget, heralded by the mid-year economic statement due this month, which announces a surplus for the first time in a decade, will somehow give them a boost. This is a forlorn hope.

Complacency is no preparation for the future

Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 10:09 AM, first published at 09 Dec 2018 — 11:45 PM
The final days of Federal Parliament in 2018 were consumed with a concocted fight over terrorism and data encryption, a battle over a relative handful of asylum seekers, and the rights of gay students in religious schools. They touched on all the culture war sensitivities that politicians seem compelled to fight over these days. But they show parliamentarians saying and doing nothing about the prosperity of the nation. In the meantime, the anarchistic free-for-all in federal and state energy policy that has broken out following the collapse of the Coalition's centrepiece National Energy Guarantee has seen major energy companies now starting to vote with their feet and freezing their investment plans.
Two decades ago, economic reformers laid the ground for Australia's current prosperity, moving to a market-based economy with a strong macro-economic framework, that then allowed us to make the most of our China fortune. But there has been no productivity-enhancing major economic reform since John Howard's GST. Our student performances continue to slip. And debacles such as today's energy policy mess are warning signs that Australia's third decade of world-leading economic over-performance is at risk. This is the essential gist of the OECD's Economic Survey of Australia reported on page one today.

ACCC's Rod Sims lifts secrecy over Google and Facebook

10 Dec 2018 — 11:45 PM
Using powers available to him under competition law, Rod Sims has finally lifted much of the veil of secrecy over the Australian operations of two of the world's largest advertising platforms – Google and Facebook.
For the first time he has been able to reveal that Google and Facebook earned more than half of the country's $8 billion in digital advertising revenue in 2017.
Google earned about $2.5 billion and Facebook about $1.6 billion of the total, according to information disclosed by the two companies as well as data from the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia.

No case for another rewrite of the media rules

Updated 11 Dec 2018 — 12:04 AM, first published at 10 Dec 2018 — 11:45 PM
On the very day that two of Australia's most hallowed media names – newspaper publisher Fairfax and television channel Nine Entertainment – began operating as one company, the ACCC has recommended a new regulator for the digital giants such as Google and Facebook that have tormented and undermined traditional media outlets for two decades.
The ACCC review was announced alongside the same reforms that have finally liberated Fairfax and Nine from cross-media ownership restrictions to merge and compete far more effectively. But the ACCC's proposed cure is hardly ideal. As well as the new regulator for the global digital platforms, the ACCC wants to haul in all media – digital giants and traditional – under a common new media regulatory framework with new content rules that would apply to all existing and future formats, platforms, and technologies. It is regulatory mission creep that is simply not justified.

ACCC makes good first strike against Google and Facebook's unchecked dominance

By Paul Smith Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 8:17 PM, first published at 7:00 PM
Google Search is estimated to have a 94 per cent market share in Australia, while 95 per cent of Australian consumers who use social networking use the Facebook platform.
In advertising terms, Google pockets $47 out of every $100 spent by digital advertisers in Australia, Facebook trousers $21, leaving just $32 for all the other websites operating in the country combined.
It is astonishing to see the stats showing the power of the two behemoths in Australia laid bare, and it is also important that Australia's regulator has stood up on the global stage and made some respectable proposals about dealing with it.

Labor faces stiff Senate opposition to key tax hikes

By Phillip Coorey 11 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
An incoming Labor government will struggle to legislate its key tax increases with almost the entire Senate crossbench opposed to its plans to abolish cash refunds for excess franking credits, and none prepared to support the limiting of future negative gearing to newly constructed homes.
In addition, a Labor government could also struggle to find support to lift the top marginal tax rate by 2 percentage points and unwind stages two and three of the income tax cuts, which have already been legislated.
A survey of the entire Senate crossbench shows that Labor, if it wins the election, has next to no hope of passing either the negative gearing or franking credit changes before June 30, 2019, the date the term of the existing Senate expires.

Death of the Saturday house auction

By Richard Yetsenga and Jo Masters 11 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
The two big drivers of house prices are interest rates and debt. When rates are lower, people borrow more and spend more. Both those drivers have now pretty much hit their limits.
Household debt at near 200 per cent of disposable income puts Australia in the top quartile of advanced economies. While a further increase is possible, most accept it would be imprudent. And regulators are likely to remain sensitive to any lending growth perceived to be excessively fast or potentially imprudent.
Interest rates at 1.5 per cent could, theoretically, fall further. But given they reached 17 per cent in 1989 and averaged 6.6 per cent in the 1990s, any further decline is unlikely to be meaningful in the context of the huge fall over the past 30 years.

Is Australia's beloved home auction dying a slow death?

By Matthew Cranston Updated 11 Dec 2018 — 8:51 PM, first published at 11:32 AM
Australia's biggest residential real estate agency Ray White has seen an increase in the number of homes it prepares to sell via auction despite economists suggesting auctions are becoming less relevant in a falling house price cycle.
Ray White sent 33.7 per cent of new stock to auction in 2018, up from 29.7 per cent of new stock sent to auction in 2017.
Ray White executive chairman Brian White said he "disagreed entirely" with the idea that auctions were becoming a more redundant form of selling in Australia and that they still gave a significant indicator as to how the market was shaped.

Sydney house prices drop most in 30 years since 2017 peak

By Emily Cadman
12 December 2018 — 10:29am
Sydney's property market slump has reached a new milestone, with values falling further than the late 1980s when Australia was on the cusp of entering its last recession.
Average Sydney home values have fallen 10.1 per cent since their 2017 peak, CoreLogic's head of research Tim Lawless said on Tuesday, citing data as of December 7.
That surpasses the top-to-bottom decline of 9.6 per cent recorded between 1989 and 1991.

Value of new housing loans dive in September quarter amid fears RBA will be ‘be late to the party’

  • December 12, 2018
The value of new housing loans in Australia plunged 7.4 per cent to $89.2 billion for the September quarter, according to data released by the prudential regulator.
The quarterly ADI report, which details commercial property exposures, residential property exposures and new housing loan approvals, found that impaired assets and past due items lifted 5.4 per cent to $27.6bn for the period.
Still, the total value of domestic housing loans on the books of authorised deposit taking institutions rose 5.4 per cent on the prior year to $1.6bn, APRA said.

Australia Growth to Be Hit by Housing ‘Perfect Storm,’ AMP Says

Michael Heath
December 12, 2018, 2:07 PM GMT+11
  • Sydney and Melbourne prices to fall a total of 20%: Oliver
  • RBA to cut cash rate to 1% by end-2019 to support households
Australia’s tumbling property prices could shave up to 1.2 percentage points from economic growth in 2019 as the decline hits housing construction and consumer spending, according to AMP Capital Investors Ltd.
Sydney and Melbourne prices will drop a further 10 percent next year, taking their peak-to-trough fall to 20 percent as a “prefect storm” smacks housing, AMP Chief Economist Shane Oliver said in a research report Wednesday. He predicts the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut interest rates in the second half of 2019 and end the year with a cash rate at 1 percent from the current 1.5 percent.
“The positive feedback loop of recent years of rising prices bringing higher demand and further price gains has given way to a negative feedback loop of falling prices leading to reduced demand and further declines,” Oliver said of housing. “This could all be made worse if immigration levels are cut sharply.”

Council of Financial Regulators sees credit squeeze risks

By John Kehoe Updated 13 Dec 2018 — 10:31 AM, first published at 9:24 AM
The country's top financial regulators have expressed concern that a reduction in bank lending in response to the royal commission into financial services and tougher regulations will cut the flow of credit required to help the economy grow.
An inaugural quarterly meeting statement published Thursday by the Council of Financial Regulators also observed that as banks pulled back, lending by lightly regulated non-banks had picked up significantly including for property development. The council, which met on Monday, vowed to more closely scrutinise lending by so-called shadow banks.
Despite apprehension about a possible credit squeeze, the council was relatively comfortable with a softening in house prices, noting it was happening at a fortuitous time of low unemployment and solid international economic growth.

Scott Morrison backs big Australia at COAG

By Phillip Coorey and Simon Evans Updated 12 Dec 2018 — 7:14 PM, first published at 8:25 AM
Scott Morrison has indicated he will resist any significant cut to Australia's intake of permanent migrants, saying while the states will have an input, he envisages the level staying close to 160,000 so as not to jeopardise economic growth.
But the Prime Minister's handpicked population adviser believes the rate should be closer to the existing cap of 190,000.
State and territory leaders agreed at Wednesday's Council of Australian Governments meeting to participate in a process where they would tell the Commonwealth how many migrants they needed, based on demand and whether they had the infrastructure to support them.

Scott Morrison to campaign for religious discrimination act

By Tom McIlroy Updated 13 Dec 2018 — 8:25 AM, first published at 7:47 AM
Scott Morrison is preparing to campaign for a new religious discrimination act at the federal election, part of new stand alone protections in the wake of the same-sex marriage vote.
The Prime Minister and Attorney-General Christian Porter will release the long awaited Ruddock review into religious freedom on Thursday, proposing the creation of a new freedom of religion commissioner role within the Human Rights Commission.
Draft legislation to be released next year would place religious discrimination on the same footing as race, gender and sexual discrimination under the law.

Australia to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

By Phillip Coorey 12 Dec 2018 — 8:00 PM
The Morrison government is cautiously optimistic its decision regarding Australia's Israeli embassy will not jeopardise the signing of the free trade agreement with Indonesia.
It is understood that cabinet on Tuesday agreed Australia would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but there will be no immediate move to shift the embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv.
One report cited cost of between $200 million and $400 million as the reason for leaving the embassy in Tel Aviv. Other options examined included establishing a consulate in Jerusalem.

Why your mortgage should have a '3' in front

By Jessica Irvine
12 December 2018 — 11:00pm
For years now, I’ve been asked for my best advice to save money. And for years, I’ve been offering the same answer.
There’s a widespread financial scam going around, and it’s not from Nigeria.
Here’s what you need to do to see if you’ve been caught up in the trap: stop what you’re doing right now and check your mortgage interest rate.

Trust deficit for the system and political parties

By John Warhurst
13 December 2018 — 12:00am
Trust is a tricky concept, no more so than in politics, because it has so many components. It is now a given that the low level of trust in Australian politics is problematic. Still, it comes as a shock when it is reported by Tony Wright that a major survey shows that “public satisfaction with the way democracy works in Australia has fallen off a cliff, and only one in three voters now trust the federal government”.
The report, called Trust and Democracy in Australia, was released by the Museum of Australian Democracy and the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra. It traced an apparent dramatic decline in satisfaction with Australian democracy over the past decade from 86 per cent to 41 per cent.
This research team, including professors Mark Evans, Max Halupka and Gerry Stoker, has been working on the topic of democracy for the past five years and have issued several survey reports related to trust. Recently they concluded that: “There is compelling evidence of the increasing disconnect between government and citizens reflected in the decline of democratic satisfaction, trust in politicians, political parties and other key institutions and lack of public confidence in the capacity of governments (of whatever colour) to address public policy concerns.”

Morrison backs national anti-corruption commission following Labor demands

By David Crowe
13 December 2018 — 11:42am
The federal government will set up a national integrity commission to crack down on corruption in a dramatic shift in policy after years of fending off calls for tougher enforcement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the plan less than one month after a debate in Parliament in which he suggested Labor was arguing about a "fringe issue" in its call for the commission.
"We haven’t kicked up a lot of dust about this because we’ve just been working on it," Mr Morrison said in making the announcement on Thursday.
"These are sensible changes we’re outlining today, they learn the lessons from many of the failed experiments we’ve seen at the state level."

Scott Morrison to introduce Religious Discrimination Act but delays protections for gay students

By Michael Koziol
13 December 2018 — 1:04pm
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will move to protect religious Australians from discrimination with new laws to be introduced before the election, while delaying efforts to strip religious schools of the right to expel LGBTI students.
Unveiling the government's long-awaited response to Philip Ruddock's religious freedom review on Thursday, Mr Morrison also promised a new "Freedom of Religion Commissioner", despite Mr Ruddock recommending against such an office.
The Prime Minister pivoted his message toward Australia's booming multicultural communities, stressing new arrivals tended to have strong religious beliefs and wanted those beliefs protected from harassment or intimidation.

The good, the bad and the ugly of corporate Australia in 2018

By James Thomson 14 Dec 2018 — 10:00 AM
It's safe to say 2019 can't come fast enough for corporate Australia. A year that promised so much – renewed economic growth, the return of risk taking and deal making, an improving earnings outlook – has turned into a dumpster fire, with the royal commission exposing systemic cultural problems, leading executives facing jail and short-sellers feasting on companies with poor disclosure.
With a federal election around the corner, and community sentiment strongly against the business community, 2019 might not provide much relief for the top of the town.

The good

James Packer's mental health stand

It's still unfortunately rare to see anyone admit to a weakness in the male-dominated, eat-pressure-for-breakfast world of Australian business – let alone the son of one of our toughest ever billionaires. Which makes James Packer's decision to step down from the board of Crown Resorts – and be explicit he was doing it for mental health reasons – so courageous.

HSBC: These 10 risks could throw the markets and economy in 2019

By Rebecca Ungarino 14 Dec 2018 — 8:26 AM
Climate change's impact. Corporate debt. The Federal Reserve hiking interest rates.
Those were some of the items HSBC listed as the top 10 risks facing the market and the economy in the coming year, as detailed in a report to clients released this week.
After a year marked by the return of volatility in the marketplace, heightened trade tensions between the US and trading partners, and the Federal Reserve's path to normalise monetary policy, the report gives a glimpse into what investors might expect for 2019.

There's a good model for a federal ICAC - it's not the PM's

By Ian Temby
14 December 2018 — 12:00am
There is a single anti-corruption body in Australia that is highly effective and enjoys strong public support. It is the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. Two matters are fundamental to its success. It can and does conduct public hearings. It can and does provide reports to Parliament, including findings of corruption, which are made public.
The Commonwealth Integrity Commission, as proposed on Thursday by Prime Minister Scott Morison, falls well short of those essential characteristics. If it came into existence as he proposes, it would be a failure. This is not the right model.
The NSW ICAC was the first independent commission against corruption in this country. I was the original ICAC commissioner, between 1984 and 1989. While my period in office was accompanied by a degree of controversy, I hope now to be seen as a dispassionate commentator.

Markets are sending a worrying signal about the Australian economy

By Adam Haigh & Andreea Papuc
14 December 2018 — 8:32am
The Reserve Bank says the next move in interest rates is up. Yet investors are starting to embrace the idea that policy makers will be forced to cut.
That leaves the Australian dollar vulnerable, with predictions it could fall as low as 65 US cents.
In the bond market, the yield curve for overnight index swaps -- a gauge of expectations for short-term rates -- has inverted, showing that traders expect the RBA's cash rate to be slightly lower than the current 1.5 per cent in a year's time.

Navy's Hunter frigate contract signed off

The federal government has signed the main contract for the construction of nine new frigates in Adelaide.
Australian Associated Press December 14, 201811:25am
The federal government has signed the head contract for construction in Adelaide of the navy's new fleet of nine Hunter class frigates.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne says the government has delivered on a promise to have the deal finalised before the end of the year.
"The $35 billion program will provide the navy with a world-class anti-submarine warfare capability, create thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to the national economy," Mr Pyne said.

Inside Team Shorten: Labor leader knows who he can lean on and when

By Phillip Coorey14 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
When the previous Labor government was tearing itself to shreds during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, one senior figure struck a note of optimism.
"This is the Whitlam government. The next one will be the Hawke government," he said.
Like the Rudd-Gillard government, the Whitlam government soared to power after a long stint in opposition only to quickly crash and burn. The reasons were different but dysfunction was a common denominator.

House of cards: NSW faces $8b stamp duty shortfall

By Matt Wade
15 December 2018 — 12:00am
Sydney’s property market slump has forced the NSW government to slash $8 billion from expected stamp duty revenue this year.
But Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the state economy can maintain solid growth despite the biggest downturn in Sydney house prices in three decades.
The state’s half yearly budget review on Tuesday will forecast “above trend” growth in NSW this financial year before easing closer to the long-term trend of 2.5 per cent over the following three years.

New analysis shows negative gearers account for as few as one in 10 property purchases

By Shane Wright
14 December 2018 — 11:45pm
Labor has seized on a new independent analysis of Australia's negative gearing system to dismiss growing warnings by the Morrison government that reining in the tax concession will trigger a collapse in the housing market.
The data compiled by the Parliamentary Library suggests as few as one in 10 properties bought over the past year were purchased for tax loss purposes - a finding shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said proved Labor's policy posed no risk to the economy.
Following a scathing Productivity Commission report, Labor is increasing the pressure on the government to change the negative gearing policy.

Bubble of global financial markets ready to pop

By Satyajit Das Updated 15 Dec 2018 — 11:46 PM, first published at 11:43 PM
The "everything bubble" is deflating. The fact that it's happening relatively slowly shouldn't blind us to the real threat: The world is dangerously underestimating how hard it'll be to deal with the fallout once it pops.
Frothy markets can't disguise the warning signs. The shift to tighter monetary policies in the West is putting pressure on global equity and real-estate values. Even more critically, it's weakening credit markets. Over-indebted emerging markets face headwinds from rising borrowing costs and dollar shortages.
At the same time, investors are underestimating how disruptive trade conflicts and sanctions could turn out to be. That's not to mention rising non-financial risks - from the legal difficulties of the US administration, to the UK's Brexit debacle, to political instability in France, Germany, Italy and even Saudi Arabia. Uncertainty will impact the real economy, primarily through the wealth effect of declining asset values and a reduced supply of credit.

Labor promises a $6.6 billion housing boom to bring down rents

By David Crowe
16 December 2018 — 12:01am
Australia’s housing shortage would get a $6.6 billion fix from a Labor plan to build thousands of new homes and bring down rents for those in need, in a major proposal that sharpens the policy contest ahead of the next election.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will vow to “turbocharge” investment in new housing with plans for 250,000 new homes over a decade for those struggling to pay the rent.
The Labor plan replaces the Morrison government’s housing affordability schemes with a direct subsidy of $8500 a year over 15 years for investors who build new dwellings and offer them to people in need on lower rents.

Australia has much to celebrate - and to fear

By Peter Hartcher
15 December 2018 — 12:00am
An acquaintance was walking his dog along the promenade at Sydney's Manly beach one beautiful morning recently. He describes the golden sun sparkling on the waves, the mild breeze, the grace of the surfers, the people strolling and jogging, enjoying the early calm under the soaring Norfolk pines. He happened to pass one of the many park benches overlooking the ocean, where three older blokes sat contemplating the scene, pudgy hands clasped across substantial bellies. "Yeah," he overheard one of the sitters confirm to his companions, "this country's f---ed."
Australia is one of the most successful and attractive countries on earth. It also has a fair bit to worry about. A British magazine, The Economist, published a cover in October featuring a bounding kangaroo leaping into a clear, blue sky under the heading: "What the world can learn from Australia: It is perhaps the most successful rich economy."
In the same month, the eminent policy thinker Ross Garnaut, former economic adviser to Bob Hawke, gave a speech to the Melbourne Institute where he began by dissenting from the theme he'd been invited to address, "Politicians delivering change." Garnaut's opening line: "I am not comfortable with the title of our session today. Australia is in trouble."

Yes, PM, people of faith fret, but your law can't fix that

By Jacqueline Maley
16 December 2018 — 12:00am
A Muslim woman is asked to remove her hijab in her workplace. A Christian employee is sacked for speaking against same-sex marriage on a Facebook page. A Pentecostal preacher recommends gay conversion therapy for the son of a congregant. An imam tells his followers the Koran preaches that Jews are treacherous.
Which of these is discrimination, which is vilification, and in which should the government involve itself?
Thanks to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s exquisite timing, we are about to launch into a public debate about these kinds of questions, questions that are complex and socially sensitive, and uniquely unsuited to the fight-club atmosphere of an election campaign.

Climate deal falls short, fails to set binding targets

By Brady Dennis
16 December 2018 — 9:46am
Katowice:  Weary climate negotiators have limped across the finish line after days of round-the-clock talks, striking a deal that keeps the world moving forward with plans to curb carbon emissions. But the agreement fell well short of the breakthrough that scientists - and many of the conference's own participants - say is needed to avoid the cataclysmic impacts of a warming planet.
The deal struck on Saturday at a global conference in the heart of Polish coal country, where some 25,000 delegates had gathered, adds legal flesh to the bones of the 2015 Paris agreement, setting the rules of the road for how nearly 200 countries cut their production of greenhouse gases and monitor each other's progress.
The agreement also prods countries to step up their ambition in fighting climate change, a recognition of the fact that the world's efforts have not gone nearly far enough. But, like the landmark 2015 agreement in Paris, it does not bind countries to hit their targets. And observers questioned whether it was sufficient given the extraordinary stakes.

Former general David Hurley chosen as Australia's next Governor General

By Aaron Patrick Updated 16 Dec 2018 — 10:49 AM, first published at 10:30 AM
A former head of the defence forces and the current NSW governor, David Hurley, has been chosen as Australia's twenty-seventh governor general.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday morning the Queen had accepted his recommendation of Mr Hurley, who he said was his first choice.
"I've always been impressed by the roles of governor-generals who have been appointed from our former military ranks and that was always a priority for me in considering this appointment," Mr Morrison said, with Mr Hurley standing next to him in Canberra.

Financial Services Royal Commission Issues.

Damning review finds big banks overcharge loyal customers $850 a year

By David Crowe
10 December 2018 — 11:45pm
The competition regulator has slammed the major banks for charging loyal customers too much for their mortgages in a damning review of interest rate moves that "stifled" choice and added $1.1 billion to bank revenue.
The findings send another warning to home loan customers to check their interest rates and switch their accounts, with the regulator claiming a saving of about $850 a year for those with an average mortgage.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the royal commission into the banks was encouraging some customers to shop around for better deals but it also found the industry imposed high costs on those who tried to switch their accounts.

Super fee transparency scheme delayed

  • December 11, 2018
An attempt by the corporate watchdog to bring transparency to fee-gouging superannuation funds has again been delayed, dragging out the introduction of the new disclosure regime to almost six years.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission said today it would again push back the deadline for compliance with the controversial fee disclosure regime known as RG97 – this time by another year to the end of 2020.
RG97 was the product of four years of consultation after the watchdog found significant under-reporting of investment fees across the wealth management industry.

Consumer complaints surge on the back of royal commission revelations

By John Collett
12 December 2018 — 12:00am
The revelations at the royal commission into misconduct in financial services have sharpened the public's awareness of the ways and means by which they can be ripped off.
The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has only been going for a little over a month, but there has been a surge in complaints.
AFCA received an average of 310 complaints each business day in November. That's a 47 per cent increase on complaints received across the three bodies that merged to form AFCA.
AFCA replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal as the one-stop shop for financial complaints.

A credit crunch is what happens when too many regulators intervene in markets

By John Kehoe Updated 13 Dec 2018 — 5:21 PM, first published at 2:00 PM
The Council of Financial Regulators has laid bare the inevitable tensions, risks and contradictions in regulators trying to deftly manage credit, the housing market and also look after financial consumers.
On the one hand, the CFR said on Thursday the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's crackdown on interest-only loans, investor housing credit and borrower expense verification had been a success in reducing risks in the financial system.
Yet the council of Australia's top financial officials expressed concern that the added layer of the highly-legalistic Hayne royal commission's intrusive probe may be spooking bankers into a risky credit squeeze for the economy.

Banking royal commission: big four bank’s fears and failings laid bare in deep dive into APRA papers

  • By Chris Jenkins
  • 12:03PM December 13, 2018
A treasure trove of the big banks’ fears and failings has been unearthed by a review of communications with regulators submitted to the Hayne royal commission.
The royal commission required banks to submit countless documents detailing their activities, including records of conversations and correspondence that executives and directors had with industry regulator the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
Summarised in a research note by investment bank UBS carrying the title “APRA uncut — the raw conversations APRA had with the banks”, the documents show, among other things, that Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn was keen to know if his organisation performed the worst of the banks on APRA’s targeted review so that he could use the information to spur staff to fix problems.

Banks will have to hold more capital in New Zealand

By James Eyers Updated 14 Dec 2018 — 12:12 PM, first published at 12:08 PM
The big four banks may have to significantly lift the amount of equity held by their subsidiaries in New Zealand, after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said on Friday it would almost double high-quality capital requirements, a move that would increase borrowing costs and reduce returns.
"The proposal would see banks' capital levels increase materially," the central bank said in a statement on Friday.
The central bank said the ultimate increase "will depend on their current levels of capital, how much extra they choose to hold above the required minimum, and whether they are a large or small bank.

What the banking royal commission means for you

By Misa Han14 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
It has been an action-packed year for the Hayne royal commission. Bank executives and board members have been thrown under the bus. Licensees have collapsed, market caps have been wiped out and an ambulance called.
But what now for consumers once the drama is over?
Although the final report from the Hayne commission is not due to be delivered until February, banks and regulators are already moving to clean up the sector.

National Budget Issues.

RBA set to freeze interest rates trigger

  • 5:00AM December 10, 2018
Official interest rates will stay on hold throughout next year as households come to grips with a cooling housing market and tighter credit conditions, a growing number of economists and market analysts predict.
Several economists have pushed out their rate rise expectations until 2020, following a slowdown in economic growth in the September quarter and anecdotal evidence suggesting house prices will remain under pressure for another 12 months.
Their views come as a key Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on Australia cautions policymakers they should put “contingency plans” in place in the event there is a severe housing market collapse.

Reserve Bank of Australia touts financial system's under-appreciated resilience

By Jonathan Shapiro Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 2:28 PM, first published at 12:00 AM
Housing bears are famous for hearing what they want to hear. And last week, Reserve Bank assistant governor Guy Debelle made it very easy when he dared to suggest that "quantitative easing" was a policy option.
For the bears, who appear to be revelling in each set of weak auction clearance numbers, it was further vindication that the financial system was on the brink of calamity – and the central bank was preparing for the worst.
But Debelle's QE revelation obscured the RBA's real message: That the bars have failed to appreciate how resilient the economy and the financial system are to the mounting challenges it faces from both home and abroad.

COAG: PM throws down the gauntlet on health spending with $1.25b boost

By Phillip Coorey11 Dec 2018 — 11:00 PM
The Morrison government will try to negate Labor's key electoral strength of health by promising an extra $1.25 billion over the next four years towards a special discretionary fund to boost services in areas of need.
The $1.25 billion for a Community Health and Hospitals Program will almost double the $740 million Labor will spend on its already announced Better Hospitals Fund by 2021-22.
However, Labor has promised to spend a total of $2.8 billion on its fund by 2025, whereas the government is making no commitment beyond 2021-22.

Cuts to research and development are unsustainable

By Margaret Gardner
15 December 2018 — 12:00am
On Monday, universities are bracing for the details of another funding cut – this time to life-changing research.
In the mid-year budget update, cuts of $135 million – foreshadowed by the Minister last month – are expected to be unveiled.
This cut comes as we learn that, in the coming financial year, government investment in research and development will fall to just half a per cent of GDP in 2018-19.

The science of journalism, and how to pay for it

  • 11:00PM December 14, 2018
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has come up with a very thorough report on digital platforms and some bracing, if not horrifying (to Google and Facebook) ideas, including a special regulator to look under their hoods at the algorithms.
Some of the recommendations might even happen at some point, including some kind of transparency about algorithms, perhaps like food contents on the packet, so we can check out the sugar and fat before buying anyway.
To preview my conclusion, the report has rightly called out that journalism is a social good, but fallen short of the next logical step: that it must be supported, like science is. In that context, the ABC is the CSIRO.

Health Issues.

Health and hospitals top priority for NSW voters

By Alexandra Smith
10 December 2018 — 12:00am
Health has emerged as the top priority for NSW voters, as the Coalition deals with a problematic new public-private hospital and Labor campaigns on funding hospitals instead of stadiums.
About one in five voters identified health and hospitals as their number one priority, new polling for the Herald shows, while 18 per cent said managing the state's finances was most important to them.
A Ucomms/Reachtel state-wide poll of more than 1500 people asked voters to identify which issues were the most important to them when deciding how to vote.

One in four breast cancers could be prevented, exhaustive evidence review finds

By Kate Aubusson
10 December 2018 — 12:03am
One in four breast cancers are potentially preventable, an exhaustive evidence review of a staggering 68 breast cancer risk factors shows.
Evidence is mounting that smoking may increase the risk of breast cancer, and the case for recommending a diet rich in vegetables, dairy and calcium is also strengthening, according to the latest data.
Finding accurate and potentially life-saving information about breast cancer can be a confusing exercise in fear and self-flagellation amid the cacophony of well-meaning advice, research, and alarmist rubbish.

People with eating disorders to get more Medicare-funded treatment

By Kate Aubusson & Angus Thompson
9 December 2018 — 10:43am
Australians with severe eating disorders have access to a comprehensive treatment plan under Medicare for the first time, including up to 60 appointments with psychologists and dietitians.
Patients with the serious psychiatric conditions including anorexia and bulimia will be able to access up to 40 subsidised psychological services and 20 dietetic services each year from November 2019, the Morrison government announced on Sunday.
Appearing beside Health Minister Greg Hunt at Sunday's announcement, former Olympian Jana Pittman spoke of the night before her 2007 World Championships 400m win, when she was overcome by "fear and anxiety and self-loathing".

Aussie-trained foreign doctors exempt from visa action

  • 11:00PM December 9, 2018
Thousands of foreign students and medical graduates will be protect­ed from a federal government plan to curtail the use of overseas-trained doctors, allowing them to stay in Australia to work.
Under the plan, announced in the May budget but still being finalise­d, the government will next month start to reduce the number of visas approved for GPs, resident medical officers and some other positions.
With a growing number of local graduates, but a persistent shortage of doctors in various rural and remote areas, the governme­nt wants more power to address workforce maldistrib­ution. It has also forecast $415.5 million in savings by reducing over-servicing in the cities.

COAG takes a pass on hospitals funding concerns

  • 11:00PM December 9, 2018
A lingering public hospital dispute may not be resolved at the Council of Australian Governments meeting this week, with the federal government refusing to put it on the formal agenda.
When health ministers last met in October, the Liberal states joined a campaign led by their Labor counterparts in Queensland and Victoria to block the federal 2016-17 funding reconciliation.
A review of forecast and actual hospital activity had led the federal government to withhold $609.3 million in funding, with flow-on effects for state budgets.

US investigation into generic drug 'cartel' expands to 16 companies, 300 drugs

By Christopher Rowland Updated 10 Dec 2018 — 4:57 PM, first published at 3:13 PM
Executives at more than a dozen generic-drug companies had a form of shorthand to describe how they conducted business, insider lingo worked out over steak dinners, cocktail receptions and rounds of golf.
The "sandbox", according to investigators, was the market for generic prescription drugs, where everyone was expected to play nice.
"Fair share" described dividing up the sales pie to ensure that each company reaped continued profits. "Trashing the market" was used when a competitor ignored these unwritten rules and sold drugs for less than agreed-upon prices.

Doctors told to stop delivering caesarean babies before full term

By Esther Han
11 December 2018 — 12:00am
Up to 60 per cent of planned caesarean sections are being performed before "full term" without a medical reason despite mounting evidence of the risks, from respiratory problems to poorer school performance, a new report shows.
The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation has found wide disparities in the provision of treatments such as antibiotics in children, colonoscopy and gastroscopy across the country and also places the spotlight on caesarean section births.
For a long time, doctors considered 37 to 41 weeks of gestation "full term" but new evidence has prompted the definition to be tightened to between 39 and 41 weeks.

Health insurance cap may advantage youth

  • 11:00PM December 10, 2018
Labor’s proposed cap on health insurance premium increases could put the bigger funds, and younger members, at a financial advantage, altering the market while the Producti­vity Commission examines underlying cost pressures.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has promised average industry ­premium increases of less than 3.95 per cent next year — the lowes­t in 18 years — however, a Labor government would impose a 2 per cent cap in 2020.
Bill Shorten has accused the indus­try of “treating Australians like mugs, gouging people on the basis of a con” by increasing premium­s but not reducing their profits or capital reserves.

Australians live a long life despite high rates of cancer, booze

Australians live a long life and are more likely than most to consider themselves healthy, despite high rates of cancer, obesity and alcohol consumption.
11:00PM December 10, 2018
Australians live a long life and are more likely than most to consider themselves healthy, according to an analysis of 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Yet Australia has the second-highest incidence of cancer, the third-highest proportion of overweight and obese men (behind the US and Chile) and above-average alcohol intake.
The juxtaposition is revealed in a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ­released today to provide inter­national comparisons to judge the nation’s performance.

Health spend helps Morrison shut down a dangerous Labor attack

By David Crowe
11 December 2018 — 11:45pm
Labor proved its tactical edge on health policy five months ago when it used community fears about hospital funding to demolish the Coalition.
Voters in Longman, just north of Brisbane, were repeatedly told the Turnbull government was cutting $2.9 million from the public hospital in Caboolture.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $1.25 billion in health funding to fend off Labor accusations of cuts to hospitals and healthcare. Vision: Sky News.
The cut was difficult to calculate, given it was based on questionable assumptions, but the claim was lethal. Voters swung to Labor in the July 28 byelection and turned a marginal seat into a relatively safe one.

Labor kickstarts inquiry into private health insurance

  • 11:00PM December 11, 2018
Labor will fast-track its promised inquiry into private health ­insurance, calling for submissions before the federal election and putting government incentives in the spotlight.
Bill Shorten will today release an issues paper to help develop terms of reference for a Productivity Commission ­inquiry, which Labor argues would be the first major review of the sector in 20 years.
Not only does the move ensure health insurance will be a campaign issue, but Labor’s consultation process will coincide with the government’s announcement of 2019 premium increases and the rollout of Health Minister Greg Hunt’s latest reforms.

Eighteen patients suffered 'catastrophic' adverse events in NSW hospitals

By Esther Han
12 December 2018 — 4:12pm
Eighteen patients in NSW public hospitals suffered a "catastrophic" medical event that led to serious harm or death in the past financial year, a new report shows.
The NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford released her analysis of the public health system on Wednesday, identifying systemic problems including overworked doctors piling up annual leave and patients facing unacceptable elective surgery wait times.
Eighteen patients experienced a "catastrophic" sentinel event last year.
Among the findings was that 18 patients had experienced a "catastrophic" sentinel event - a major adverse event that results in very serious harm or death to a patient - in 2017-18, four more than the previous year's figure.

Pharmacies urged to ban alternative medicine

  • 11:00PM December 12, 2018
Pharmacies are being urged to ban homeopathic products, and not sell complementary therapies and alternative medicines without clinical evidence.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia will make the recommendations today as it joins the Choosing Wisely initiative, in which health professions lead efforts to reduce unnecessary and potentially unsafe healthcare.
The move on complementary therapies and homeopathic products comes amid concerns Australians may be wasting money on products not shown to work, and which may potentially interfere with accepted treatment options.

Two thirds of Aussies deemed overweight or obese

  • 11:00PM December 12, 2018
Two-thirds of Australian adults are overweight or obese, as poor diet and inactivity undermines the long-term benefits of fewer people smoking or drinking to ­excess.
As political leaders argued over health funding yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released national survey results that should weigh heavily on the system. For the first time, two out of every three adults, or 67 per cent of the population, are deemed to be overweight or obese. That is based on self-reported height and weight, used to calculate the Body Mass Index, an imperfect but consistent measure for the survey.
The previous survey in 2014-15 put the figure at 63.4 per cent, but more Australians have slipped to the obese end of the scale. There has also been a surge in the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds deemed overweight or obese, increasing from 38.9 per cent to 46 per cent over the period.

Hospital funding dispute remains unresolved

  • 11:00PM December 12, 2018
A $609 million hospital funding dispute remains unresolved and the negotiation of a national agreement has been shifted beyond the next election despite the announcement by Scott Morrison of a $1.25 billion health fund.
While state and territory leaders were keen to resolve the dispute yesterday, the Prime Minister prioritised other issues at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Adelaide, even after his unexpected announcement of a new fund.
Labor governments in Queensland and Victoria have so far refused to sign an agreement put forward by federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, largely over their concerns with the existing funding reconciliation process. That is holding up the negotiation of a new health and hospital agreement for 2020-25.

'Unacceptable': $1 billion needed to fix health crisis

By Jacqueline Maley
14 December 2018 — 12:00am
Maureen Steele has been in the methadone program for 25 years and considers herself lucky.
“I’m pretty stable. I have a job, I have a mortgage, a long-term relationship, all that sort of stuff,” she says.
But in her job as a consumer advocate for drug treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital, she sees first-hand the crush on drug and alcohol services, and the consequences of the failure to get treatment. Sometimes the consequence is death.
“Often people are in crisis by the time they are ready to go into treatment and there are long waiting lists,” she says.

The enduring heartbreak of a preventable fatal disease

  • 11:00PM December 13, 2018
A disease experts say should no longer occur in Australia could lead to more than 500 preventable deaths and cost $317 million in healthcare by 2031 if not halted.
Rheumatic heart disease and its precursor, acute rheumatic fever, affects more than 4500 peopl­e, almost all of them Aborigina­l or Torres Strait Islander children and teenagers.
A report into the cost of ­inaction, published today, found the burden of disease for another generation of sufferers will continue to fall on those communities.
Lead author Rosemary Wyber, from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, said the report predicted 1370 people with the disease would need heart surgery and 563 would die if the disease progresses.

Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder

By Lisa Girion
15 December 2018 — 9:49am
Darlene Coker knew she was dying. She just wanted to know why.
She knew that her cancer, mesothelioma, arose in the delicate membrane surrounding her lungs and other organs. She knew it was as rare as it was deadly, a signature of exposure to asbestos. And she knew it afflicted mostly men who inhaled asbestos dust in mines and industries such as shipbuilding that used the carcinogen before its risks were understood.
Johnson & Johnson lost as much as $47 billion in market value Friday after reports the healthcare giant knew its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos for decades.

International Issues.

Mueller on Trump: The walls are closing in on 'individual #1'

By Edward Luce Updated 09 Dec 2018 — 3:30 PM, first published at 1:03 PM
Merely for having sat calmly through George H.W. Bush's funeral on Wednesday, Donald Trump was hailed by some as having turned a more presidential page. Alas, it was another Groundhog Day in a loop of Trumpian false dawns. Since then, Mr Trump announced the exit of his chief of staff, John Kelly, appointed Heather Nauert, a former Fox News talking head, to be the next UN ambassador, named a new attorney-general, William Barr, and was effectively labelled a criminal by his own Department of Justice. For good measure, he also called Rex Tillerson, his former secretary of state, "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell".
Mr Trump is battening down the hatches for the second half of his presidential term. It promises to be much stormier than the first. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is methodically lining up his targets for what increasingly looks like a recommended indictment of Mr Trump for more than one federal crime. On Friday, "individual #1", as Mr Trump is called in the filings, was implicated in a federal crime in the sentencing reports for Michael Cohen, his estranged personal lawyer, and Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman.

White House shake-up as Mueller's shadow looms

By Jacob Greber Updated 09 Dec 2018 — 3:28 PM, first published at 12:51 PM
Washington | Donald Trump has entered a high-risk phase of his presidency as he loses his second chief of staff in 17 months, just as the White House confronts a wave of likely probes and subpoenas from a Democrat-controlled House and the looming Mueller inquiry.
Adding to a growing list of former senior staff, Mr Trump on Saturday [Sunday AEST] said that John Kelly would step down at the end of the year, ending months of speculation that the four-star general was tiring of managing the most unorthodox president in living memory.
"John Kelly will be leaving – I don't know if I can say 'retiring'," Mr Trump said. "But he's a great guy. John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year."

The West is running out of money

  • 5:23AM December 10, 2018
The riots in Paris over the weekend and going back to November 17 have their roots in the fact that France is running out of money.
President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new fuel tax because France’s budget deficit is running perilously close to the maximum allowed in the EU of 3 per cent of GDP and national debt is 100 per cent of GDP versus the 60 per cent allowed.
The French government last ran a surplus in 1973. Government spending is 57 per cent of GDP, well over double Australia’s, and successive governments have proved incapable of even stabilising spending, let alone reducing it.

British PM May shelves Brexit vote, turns to intransigent EU for more talks

By Hans van Leeuwen Updated 11 Dec 2018 — 4:29 AM, first published at 4:02 AM
London | British Prime Minister Theresa May has forestalled a crushing defeat for her Brexit deal in parliament, at the last minute shelving the vote due on Tuesday so that she can pursue further concessions from European leaders, while stepping up preparations for Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal.
But Mrs May's shock retreat from a parliamentary defeat that could have terminated her premiership did not mean a backdown on her deal. She told parliament early on Tuesday (AEDT) that she hoped to wrest "reassurances" from the Continent that would win over enough MPs to pass her deal.
But she faces an uphill battle to batter down resistance in European capitals in coming days, with Brussels and Dublin drawing a firm line in public ahead of Mrs May's statement, even after the Prime Minister took soundings from both the European Commission and her Irish counterpart over the weekend.

Tibet gets a warmer reception as world wakes to Beijing's methods

By Peter Hartcher
11 December 2018 — 12:05am
The leader of Tibet's government-in-exile has been telling his story about Bob Carr around the world for years and always gets a laugh. Last week he recounted it during a visit to Parliament House in Canberra.
Ever since the Dalai Lama split his job into two some years ago, remaining spiritual leader of the Tibetans in exile and handing over the political leadership to be elected from among the free Tibetans, Lobsang Sangay has been their President.
In 2013 Sangay visited Canberra and a reporter asked him whether Carr, Australia's then foreign affairs minister, would be meeting him. It's always a delicate matter.

Russia topples UK as world's No 2 arms producer

10 December 2018 — 5:30pm
Helsinki:  A Swedish think tank says Russia has become the world's second-largest arms producer after the United States. Russia surpassed Britain, which had held that spot since 2002 and remains Western Europe's No 1 arms maker.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its annual report on the world's 100 biggest armaments groups that the combined arms sales of Russian companies amounted to $US37.7 billion in 2017, an 8.5 per cent rise from a year earlier. Russia's sales accounted for 9.5 per cent of a worldwide total of $398.2 billion.
The report includes both domestic and foreign sales around the globe, but doesn't include Chinese companies because of unreliable statistics, the institute said.

Amid Paris protests, Emmanuel Macron to speed up tax cuts, raise wages

11 December 2018 — 7:30am
Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to cut taxes for pensioners and raise the minimum wage in January but refused to reinstate a wealth tax, as he sought to respond to a wave of protests that have challenged his authority.
French President Emmanuel Macron before a special address to the nation, his first public comments after four weeks of nationwide 'yellow vest' protests. Credit:AP
"We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns," Macron said in a TV address on Monday night.
In a long-awaited television address, French President Emmanuel Macron promises to increase funding for those on the minimum wage, and to and reverse tax increases.

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron battle the crisis of faith in democracies

By Jennifer Hewett Updated 11 Dec 2018 — 7:10 PM, first published at 5:00 PM
The chaotic finale to 2018 may not signal the unravelling of Western-style democracy but the various crises rocking governments in key countries demonstrate something almost as dramatic. It is the rapidly growing gap between community demands, political management and economic capacity. Nor is there any obvious way to knit this back together.
The invidious positions of both Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron at least put Scott Morrison's woes into perspective. What's so alarming to voters, after all, about the prospect of getting yet another Australian prime minister within a few months, the seventh in just over 11 years?
What's happening in the UK and France is also in a different category to the Trump White House soap opera featuring a radical, post-modern US political script minus rules or rationality.

This Brexit mess borders on criminal negligence

By Tim Stanley
11 December 2018 — 11:30pm
To summarise: the British government has negotiated a withdrawal deal with the EU, shaken on it, taken it to Parliament, realised it hasn't got enough support, and pulled the vote at the last minute, promising to seek assurances on the exact deal it has just negotiated. It's mad, quite mad, and the maddest-looking person of all is the Prime Minister, who told the House of Commons on Monday that while she is "clear" that this deal is super, she will now seek "clarity" on precisely what's in it. I give up. As my old friend keeps saying: "I think the world is being run by a skeleton staff of idiots."
British Prime Minister Theresa May abruptly decided on Monday to delay a key parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal after repeated warnings she faced a rout.
What makes it so much worse is that this was predictable. We've been saying for months that this moment would come - and now, at five minutes to midnight, the country can see exactly what Theresa May has refused to confront for two years.

Why the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou will backfire

By Pankaj MishrabUpdated 12 Dec 2018 — 5:12 PM, first published at 4:15 PM
The arrest last week in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, China's iconic company, is a watershed event.
The arrest, made at the behest of the US Justice Department, has roiled markets around the world. It threatens to derail trade talks between the US and China, and to expose American businesses and executives in China to retaliation.
But the sense of humiliation Meng's arrest has provoked, and the passions it has unleashed in China, will also have long-term political effects.

British PM Theresa May wins leadership vote but fails to quell Tory dissent

By Hans van Leeuwen Updated 13 Dec 2018 — 9:30 AM, first published at 12 Dec 2018 — 10:53 PM
London | British Prime Minister Theresa May has seen off an attempted Conservative Party coup against her leadership, winning a party room confidence vote by 200 to 117, but at the price of vowing to step down before the next election.
Mrs May will struggle to reassert her authority over her party after winning the votes of fewer than two-thirds of her MPs. She also faces the prospect of her more ambitious cabinet colleagues now operating with one eye on winning a leadership election when she eventually fulfils her pledge to step down.
But Tory party rules prevent another leadership challenge for 12 months, so she at least has a free hand to continue lobbying European leaders for concessions that she hopes will make her unpopular Brexit deal more acceptable to parliament, where a majority of MPs oppose her exit package.

Crisis averted? Nope. Brexit remains Brexit after Tory rebellion.

By Nick Miller
Updated13 December 2018 — 10:53amfirst published at 8:30am
London: British Prime Minister Theresa May survives and soldiers on. It’s what she does. But the Tory rebellion has made her near-impossible job even harder.
A win doesn’t necessarily mean she stays on as leader, even in the short term. She could decide that the revolt was strong enough that it would not be conscionable, or wise, to remain.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says it would not be in the national interest to hold a general election, after she was challenged by an opposition lawmaker on whether she would hold a second EU referendum or an election.

Secret meeting led to the international effort to stop China's cyber espionage

By Chris Uhlmann and Angus Grigg 13 Dec 2018 — 11:45 PM
It was a warm evening this past July when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared a drink with the world's most powerful intelligence network.
Spy chiefs from the Five Eyes nations had come to a secure resort in coastal Nova Scotia for an informal evening after intense talks in Ottawa.
Trudeau, who'd spent part of the day pledging to fix a "death trap" highway in the Atlantic province, dropped in on the gathering to share some thoughts about geopolitical threats.
When he left, as the lobster dinner was being served, the conversation returned to a debate that began well before this annual meeting and would run long after it: should the agencies go public with their concerns about China?

Trump's mad trade war has a hidden logic

By Ross Gittins
15 December 2018 — 12:05am
Simple economics tells us Donald Trump’s stated reasons for starting a trade war with China make no sense. But more advanced economics tells us it’s no surprise he’s 'P’d off' over China’s economic rise.
Trump complains that the United States buys more from China than China buys from the US, meaning his country runs a trade deficit with China. He sees this as an obvious injustice and a sign China is cheating.
But economics teaches that bilateral trade imbalances are natural and normal, the inevitable consequence of countries’ differing “comparative advantage”. (Australia’s strength is rural and mineral commodities, for instance, whereas China’s is manufacturing.)
I look forward to comments on all this!

No comments: