Australia

You’ll never guess WHO supports the letter urging a green recovery

Criony

Thomas Sowell once said, Those who cry out that the government should ‘do something’ never even ask for data on what has actually happened when the government did something, compared to what actually happened when the government did nothing.

According to an open letter signed by 200 bodies representing 40,000,000 health workers The Guardian penned,

Chief medical officers and chief scientific advisers must be directly involved in designing the stimulus packages now underway, the letter urges, in order to ensure they include considerations of public health and environmental concerns. They say public health systems should be strengthened, and they warn of how environmental degradation could help to unleash future diseases.

Who knew?

What better way to cash in on a pandemic by claiming outrageously false representation of members in an attempt to secure funding grants. The irony of this pandemic is that it has exposed the very authorities – who we dare not question – as amateurs in the very fields they claim expertise.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves why the revenue growth of the RACGP far outstrips that of the AMA? Should the AMA question why its membership has fallen from 95% of doctors to around 26% as it has taken on the role of a climate and social justice activist rather than the RACGP’s approach to be an advocate for better health?

How many of the 40 million health professionals described above believe the orthodoxy? It is bogus to say all followers willingly endorse what these membership bodies make blanket claims about.

Perhaps we should indulge the medical and scientific communities’ request by benchmarking their supposedly superior predictive powers against their howlingly inaccurate models produced during the coronavirus which have undoubtedly done more harm to the economy than good. Take Australia. We were told 15 million may be infected and 150,000 could die. The result to date. Less than 7,200 and 100 deaths. So much for listening to the professionals.

If we are to listen to intellectually superior academia in these fields, should we just accept the Australian National University’s latest plan to have climate change listed on death certificates?

Taken to its logical conclusion, this is an ideology speaking, not science.

We have already had decades of research to support just how flawed climate science models have proven. None of the catastrophic claims of being engulfed by rising sea levels or having to tell our kids they’d never see the snow has happened. Even hardened environmental activist Michael Moore concedes the ridiculous extent to crony socialism behind the green movement.

In February we documented the story of the National Climate Emergency Summit held in Melbourne. The mainstream media led us to believe that the best of the best scientific minds congregated. We pointed out that the list of speakers was largely devoid of scientific experts. 40% were activists, 16% were from the media, 12% were politicians, 11% were academics, 4% high school students and 3% doctors. Biased much?

Yet we have seen this type of shallow content activism before, especially with respect to open letters.

We reported that 268 Australian academics cosigned an open letter supporting the climate activist group, Extinction Rebellion.

While the content was predictable, the statistics were anything but convincing. We noted,

Perhaps the most hilarious signatory to the letter was Matthew Flinders of Flinders University. Unless the university website has another Matthew Flinders listed as an active member, our esteemed explorer seems to have navigated his way back to life…simply adding to the total lack of credibility of the cabal of 268 academics who believe they have some sort of intellectual superiority over us. If one ever wanted proof of our judiciary leaning hard left, 12% of the people that signed this document were in law-related fields.

“…Many of the woke academia come from fields such as stand up comedy, poetry, arts/education, sports management, archaeology, LatAm studies, sex, health and society, social services, veterinary biology, culture, gender, racism…are you catching the drift of those supporting XR? Even Monash University’s Campus Operations Manager and Telephony Application Administrator signed it! Wonderful individuals but should we hold our educators to such high standards when anyone’s opinion will do?”

“…Eerily, over 90% of the signatories do not appear to be renowned experts in teaching science, much less climate science. Which means, why weren’t the scientists in these universities willing to commit their names to a cause that fits their ideology? Who needs them when one faculty member from Monash University deals with ‘Imaginative Education‘?…”

What has been happening in practice? Mexico has already announced that renewables subsidies are out. It has recognized that intermittent energy has no place in rebuilding the economy in a post-pandemic world. Alberta’s energy minister Sonya Savage said with respect to the Trans Mountain expansion project, “Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people…” Actions, not words. 

Which brings us back to the point of blindly submitting to expert opinion which is little more than brazen activism.

The World Medical Association (WMA), the International Council of Nurses (ICN), the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, the World Organization of Family Doctors and the World Federation of Public Health Associations, as well as thousands of individual health professionals, have signed this letter. 40 million others have not.

The proof is in the pudding. If the WMA  believes what it signed so strongly, why isn’t it included in its press releases as we publish? Admittedly it has upped the statement on its Twitter page to the 12,900 followers, a microbe in comparison to its supposed flock of 10 million physicians it represents. The ICN – which claims to represent 20 million nurses made it all too clear as to why we should dismiss it entirely – the WHO supports and promotes the letter. One wonders whether experts from the Chinese Ministry of Propaganda helped in its drafting. Afterall, China would be the biggest beneficiary were governments to fall into line.

Bes sure to read the quotes from the experts here.

The Right has no problem with the Left’s free speech

The Left misses the point every time. Conservatives don’t wish for Clementine Ford’s free speech to be curtailed or reined in at all. On the contrary. We think her comments speak for themselves. This comment was far from her worst. She is proud of her “potty mouth” as her Twitter handle boasts.

We find it utterly contemptible that the City of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp didn’t stand up and send a message by cancelling the grant funded by ratepayers. Instead she said it couldn’t be undone and expressed it only as, “deliberately divisive and incredibly unhelpful.

While Ford walked back her comments with a ‘sorry, not sorry‘ tweet, had a man written “honestly, the corona virus isn’t killing women fast enough” the grant would have been rescinded immediately and the individual raked over coals for weeks.

The hypocrisy of the left is astounding. Recall soon to be retiring conservative radio personality Alan Jones who told NZ PM Ardern to “shove a sock down her throat“. We pointed out the sanctimony of brands like Koala who pulled advertising on the grounds that Jones didn’t reflect their values while at the same time had Clem Ford run a mattress campaign for them. It’s not the principle that matters but the side.

So please Clementine, tell us what you think always. Men aren’t triggered by such ridiculous empty rhetoric. They just find it appalling that the people entrusted to administer ratepayer funds can’t summon up the courage to practice the most basic level of governance and send a message that they have standards they hold ALL people to.

We pray the Gov’t makes more $60bn mistakes!

Can the media and shadow politicians get a grip? Since when should taxpayers complain when the government makes a huge error in our favour? We can pretty much stake our lives on the fact that 99% of government programs end up way more expensive than initially budgeted for. French Submarines anyone? NBN? We should be looking at the JobKeeper revision as a massive positive.

The federal government estimated that the JobKeeper program would initially cost $130 billion. Now it appears they overestimated it by $60 billion. That was driven by the idiosyncrasies of who would be eligible at the employer end – from the self-employed to big business and everything in between.

Given the limited time window, forgive the Treasury and Tax Office for not landing estimates on target. It is ridiculous to expect they could estimate such a fluid piece of legislation.

The unwelcome arrival of COVID19 and the sudden stay-at-home orders that ensued hardly gave a generous window of opportunity to apply Japanese level precision engineering to the process.

Our only criticism lies with the drip feed approach to restarting the hibernating economy. As we mentioned yesterday with respect to the 50 US states, so many appear to be copying each other rather than making bold data driven decisions based on facts not consensus.

The reality is that the Treasury will need to make many more multi billion dollar mistakes in the spirit of JobKeeper to help mitigate the damage caused by the looking trillion dollar deficits.

Perhaps the $60 billion saving can be redeployed to building a bullet train from Sydney to Melbourne. A 20-yr project that is just the type of infrastructure spending which ticks so many boxes – relieving pressure on the state capitol cities, housing, assist a growing population and provide lots of jobs.

ABC tells Australians to “Shut the F*ck Up”

We continue to scoff at the ABC’s leadership. It regularly guarantees us that it has learnt from previous egregious mistakes but turns around and allocates some of its supposedly limited $1bn+ in taxpayer funds to make a sanctimonious video during COVID-19 lockdown using renowned figures of the intolerant left to lecture the audience to “Shut the F*ck Up!” These people are absolutely the last people to be lecturing anyone on anything.

If the ABC and its acolytes want to tell us how invaluable it has been through the bushfires and COVID-19 which justifies more funding to carry out its good work, perhaps it can lead by example and stop producing rubbish like this. It is bad enough using ABC Kids TV to indoctrinate them about white privilege. Or allowing a bunch of radical feminists to openly call for the murder of men. Or provide a platform to a convicted terrorist or happily release a tweet on Q&A which suggested former PM Abbott liked anal sex. Or calling conservative politicians “c@nts.” If the ABC is so tight on funds, why does it continue to misallocate like this?

Guess we’re just not open-minded enough.

On page 94 of the 2017/18 Annual Report, the ABC Staff Engagement Survey showed that less than half were satisfied, down 6 points on the previous survey. This moved the ABC from the median to the bottom quartile when benchmarked with other Australian and New Zealand organisations.

Money is not the problem. Management is.

Am I a Despot or Not??

We have compiled a spreadsheet titled US State Governor Coronavirus Responsesto see who would appear to have the most despotic tendencies. We have broken down the categories by party affiliation, COVID19 infections, deaths and some choice quotes to express how some treat their minions. However there is one true standout governor that must be channeling former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha for despotic tendencies.

Before we get accused of being partisan hacks, we note that in some states, governors have seemingly crossed their political ideologies in the opposite direction.

On balance, Republicans governors have been far more eager to open up their economies and remove restrictions. Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota all resisted issuing stay-at-home orders, while Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina have only issued such orders in specific parts of their states. All nine are Republican states. Most of these states encouraged “personal responsibility.

Infection rates in the aforementioned 9 rogue states stand at only 0.2886% and death rates are at 0.0096%. The relatively spread out nature of these states no doubt helped. Instead of the predictions that death rates would spiral out of control, 99.99% of the population in these states continue to function.

On the other hand, Democrat governors have had far harsher restrictions with respect to stay at home laws. Some may argue that the population densities of New York skew the figures.

Analysing the data, 178.7 million Americans live in the 24 (+1) Democrat-run states (districts). 149.5 million in 26 Republican-controlled states. COVID-19 infections in Democrat states is at 1.07 million with deaths at 70,652. Republican-controlled states have 456,000 infections and only 21,700 deaths. That means that Democrat states have a 0.5995% infection rate and 0.0395% death rate vs Republicans at 0.3049% and 0.0145% respectively, or effectively half. Stripping out NY for the Democrats would kick those figures to 0.4452% and 0.0262%. This would mean that infection rates were still 46% and death rates 80% higher relatively speaking.

The mainstream media wasted no time pointing out the negligence of GOP states and the shocking reckoning that would follow.

Partisan paper, The Kansas City Star, lambasted Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R) on April 1. They contrasted his failures to the successes of NY Gov Cuomo (D), Kansas Gov Kelly (D) & Illinois Gov Pritzker (D) by saying, “Only three other governors in the country have been as laissez-faire as Parson has in dealing with a crisis the likes of which no one alive today has ever seen — and one that will define the legacy of most every elected official now serving.” 6 weeks after this prophecy, 99.99% of Missourians haven’t succumbed to COVID-19 vs 99.994% in Kansas, 99.96% in Illinois and NY at 99.85%. Hardly a train wreck for Parsons!

Perhaps what is scarier is the “staged approach” methodology to removing restrictions which do not seem to be based on robust scientific evidence but copying thy neighbour’s homework. Take a look at some of the gradual loosening of Australia’s restrictions and it smacks of the same “one size fits all” approach in many states in the US. e.g. 10 people only in restaurants. Social distancing etc. Hardly inspiring to have such a lack of independent thinking. Especially when the coronavirus statistics to date are anything remotely as reported in the hysteric media.

Enough from us. Let’s get down to the approaches of these American states.

The most in your face comment during the coronavirus came from Indiana Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.

It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils…It is not zero evil, but it is the lesser of these two evils, and we intend to move forward that direction…We are going to have to look Americans in the eye and say, ‘We are making the best decisions for the most Americans possible,’ and the answer to that is to get Americans back to work, to get Americans back to their businesses

We wonder why data means nothing to Hawaiian Gov David Ige (D)?

Hawaii has a 0.0012% COVID death rate, one of the lowest in the country but Democrat Gov. David Ige pushed the stay at home order to the end of June. Furthermore, in the first month, the Honolulu Police Department handed out 4,600 warnings and 353 citations for breaches of the executive order.

What on earth was Tampa Bay, Florida Mayor Castor (D) thinking?

Tampa Bay, Florida Mayor Jane Castor (Democrat) released 160 prisoners from Hillsborough County Jail over concerns of COVID-19. One prisoner ended up killing a civilian the day after being released.

New Jersey Gov. Murphy (D) & Kentucky Gov. Beshear (D) showed little or no care about the constitution. 

In an interview with Fox NewsTucker Carlson, Democrat Gov. Philip Murphy (D) uttered the words “the Bill of Rights is above my pay grade.” He then went on to confess that he had not considered the effect of his restrictive executive orders on the Bill of Rights.U.S.

District Judge William Bertelsman ruled in May that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) restrictions on out-of-state travel were unconstitutional.

We were surprised to see Colorado Gov. Polis (D) adopt seemingly Republican style freedoms to his constituents.

Democrat Gov. Jared Polis spoke of Coloradans taking “personal responsibility“. Instead of imposing draconian police state penalties like most of his Democrat colleagues he left it to local authorities to sort out.

Mayor Hicks (D) of Grants, New Mexico decided to take a potshot at his Democratic Governor accusing her of adopting Nazi Germany style tactics. 

Hicks criticised Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Public Health Orders saying, “What the governor is doing is wrong” He allowed small business and golf courses to open before state police intervened and shut him down. He likened the New Mexico State Police behaving like the Gestapo.

It wasn’t just Democrats either. Republican primary candidate Daniel McCarthy took a swipe at Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) saying, “No empathy! Dictator Ducey tacked on another 15 days of shutdowns, leaving Arizonans wondering why our own governor is so comfortable letting lives and businesses be crushed under the weight of our new regime.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) took the technology initiative much like Australia’s COVIDSafe app.

An app, called “Crush COVID RI” will be used by state health experts to conduct contact tracing and better understand the spread of the virus across the state.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is the standout in terms of constituents openly pouring out love to her. 

Gov. Noem was presented with a surprise parade by her constituents thanking her for her considered actions in response to putting the responsibility back on them.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) slammed the judiciary for its pettiness. 

After a Texas hairdresser was jailed for not apologizing to the judge because she reopened her salon during lockdown, Gov Abbott said, “Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen.” She was released.

Gov Cooper (D) of North Carolina copped a slap on the wrist from the judiciary

A federal judge blocked enforcement of a portion of Cooper’s order preventing churches from holding indoor services attended by more than 10 people.

Virginia’s Liberty University used the Bible to criticise Gov Ralph Northam’s (D) criticisms.

We invite Governor Northam (D) to come and see our compliance for himself, rather than making false accusations in press conferences from Richmond. As the Ninth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.””

Democrat-controlled Wisconsin Chief Justice Patience Roggensack probably could have chosen her words more carefully. 

Roggensack was blasted for her remarks saying the uptick in coronavirus cases in Brown County was due to meatpacking employees testing positive and not “regular folks.” Take that you lowly educated Trump-voting deplorables.

There were many governors channelling Enver Hoxha for despotic tendencies. The reality is that more mayors were enjoying their newfound powers. 

We had LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) proudly champion he would have the water and electricity cut off for any businesses that didn’t comply with the lockdown. He also proudly banned sunbathing on dry sand, citing Australia as his benchmark.

We had Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) justify having a haircut (considered non-essential to everyone else) because of her regular TV appearances despite berating Chicagoans like children with the threat of the heavy hand of the CPD to anyone who violated stay-at-home orders.

NY Mayor Bill De Blasio had his failed, “dob in your neighbour hotline“, his use of the gym (considered non-essential to everyone else) and the threat to fence off the beach at Coney Island were the peons to misbehave.

Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) threatened to get compliance from her minions by “exercising the full force of our MPD, FEMS, DC Health and ABRA and the emergency authority to achieve it.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo extended the stay at home directive called PAUSE—which stands for “Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone” til June 13th. As most know, NY has had the highest incidences of infections and deaths throughout the country. The high density of NYC compounded the problem.

He ordered that infected patients be sent back to the nursing homes they came from which caused a huge spike in deaths. There are now reports that the data was fiddled to cover up the scandal. He has since stopped sending people back to nursing homes. He said, “Older people, vulnerable people, are going to die from this virus…That is going to happen. Despite whatever you do.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) pandered to racism and many other issues from the identity politics playbook to disguise the fact she is being sued by other state legislators for extending the executive orders without their approval. Protestors that descended on Lansing complained they were sick of being treated like small children. 99.5% of Michigan residents haven’t been infected with coronavirus. 99.95% haven’t died.

Alas, Gov. Katie Brown (D) of Oregon has shown herself to be the most despotic leader. Despite 99.92% of Oregonians not being infected and 99.997% not having succumbed to the virus she had no compunction ramming her rule of law. Oregon has less than 4% of the infection rate and 2% of the death rate of NY State yet Brown has kept an “indefinite” stay at home order in place.

An Oregon judge declared that the coronavirus restrictions enacted by Gov. Brown were “null and void” because her emergency orders were not approved by the state legislature after 28 days. The judge agreed with the lawsuit launched by 10 churches against the State of Oregon which argued that the emergency powers only lasted for a month and that to lengthen them required legislative approval which she did not seek!

Not to be outdone, Gov. Brown went to the State Supreme Court where she has a pending review. The Governor praised the Supreme Court action by saying, “There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic. Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled.

A bit of an odd statement when the number of people hospitalised in Oregon with COVID19 has fallen 63% in the last month to May 12th to 57 people.

Worst of all was her treatment of hair salon owner Lindsey Graham who was fined $14,000 for opening her store because it was a non-essential business. She was further threatened with the prospect of having her lease terminated as she operated out of a building owned by the State of Oregon. The final straw was the dispatch of child protection services to Graham’s home to interrogate her 6-yo stepson and check if bathroom sanitation (aka the cleanliness under the toilet seat) was up to standard.

No one questions the tragic loss of life from this pandemic. We just question the heavy-handed tactics of governors and mayors who have a twisted version of data which is completely at odds with reality. This is all about politics.

Credit is normalising, but… excellent commentary from Narrow Road Capital

If you haven’t done so already, we strongly encourage people to sign up to Narrow Road Capital’s insights on high yield and distressed credit markets. Even better it is free. Jonathan really puts together his thoughts in a very digestible format.

Jonathan has penned this excellent summary of the state of debt markets and cautions us not to get too excited. We have highlighted the things that stood out for us.

Credit is Normalising, But…

Credit securities, both in Australia and globally are getting back on their feet. The bookbuilds this week of $1 billion of corporate debt by Woolworths, $1.25 billion of RMBS by La Trobe and the $500 million of hybrids by Macquarie are all positive signs. However, secondary trading in many debt sectors is light and a few sectors remain moribund. Whilst the signs are generally encouraging, three dark clouds on the horizon point to the possibility of worsening conditions.

The leverage fuelled, panic driven sell-off started on February 24 and ran until March 23 . The circuit breaker was the Federal Reserve’s announcement of “unlimited quantitative easing”. At that time, there were widespread reports of global investors struggling to sell even the highest quality government bonds. Given how dire it was, it has been a relatively quick journey back from the abyss.

In Australia, major bank senior bonds recovered first and are now trading at similar spreads to three months ago. Corporate and securitisation debt has had a far slower recovery with trading remaining patchy. The large issuance this week by Woolworths and La Trobe, as well as a smaller issue by Liberty showed that buyers were willing to return. But unlike major bank bonds, spreads on corporate and securitisation debt have been reset at much higher levels.

At the same time as credit markets are improving, the economic outlook is also brightening in some ways with the gradual easing of restrictions on business. There is a growing view that the worst of Covid-19 has past and that a vaccine or drug treatment might not be far away. The optimism of the human spirit seems boundless with some investors seeing the pandemic as just another opportunity to buy the dip.

Where many investors are seeing mostly positives, I’m seeing mostly negatives. Australia has gone nearly 30 years without a recession leaving our economy fat and lazy. Asset prices (notably housing) have been propped up by population growth, credit growth and interest rates cuts, all factors unlikely to repeat. We’ve had over a decade of Federal Government deficits, destroying the legacy of Peter Costello’s decade of fiscal discipline. The economic buffers we had before the last crisis have been frittered away, leaving Australia poorly placed to withstand and rebound from the current economic and financial crisis. Given this backdrop, there are three standout risks for investors to factor in.

Remember 2007 – Fundamentals Matter

The bounce back in the last two months reminds me a great deal of 2007. In July 2007 credit markets slammed into a brick wall with credit default swaps and CDOs taking substantial damage. Bank bonds sold off as the riskier European banks started to have their solvency questioned. Yet after an initial shock, some of the markdowns turned around offering a window to get out with limited losses.

At first, equities and property continued on their merry way oblivious to the damage in credit markets. Australian equities peaked in October 2007 but held near record levels until January 2008. In December 2007, the property sector was slammed as Centro disclosed it couldn’t roll over its debt. Both at the time and in hindsight, the second half of 2007 was a bizarre period where fundamentals and market prices were so divergent. Given the medium term outlook for Australia includes significant unemployment and business failures, it is hard not to conclude that most investors are ignoring the fundamentals, just like they did in 2007.

Quantitative Easing

If the global debt markets are likened to plumbing, then quantitative easing is the duct tape used to cover the cracks. Central bank buying of government debt has delivered liquidity to debt markets at a time when governments and corporates are going on record borrowing sprees. If investors weren’t able to sell assets to governments via quantitative easing programs, they wouldn’t have capacity to buy the new issuance and bond yields would soar. Quantitative easing is beating back the bond vigilantes temporarily.

Australia has been a late entrant to this charade but is making up for lost time with the RBA hoovering up 7% of Australian government bonds in two months. At this rate, they will own the entire government bond market by the end of 2022. Whilst the RBA buying government bonds is the main game, there’s also been cheap funding for banks and the securitisation market. It’s no longer a case of merely providing liquidity against super safe assets, the recent purchases of sub-investment grade securitisation tranches come with the meaningful possibility of capital losses.

Whilst quantitative easing has yet to hit its unknown limits in developed economies, emerging markets have shown what happens when citizens and investors lose confidence in a fiat currency. The widespread use of US dollars in Argentina, Ecuador, Lebanon, Venezuela and Zimbabwe is the practical outworking of a country adopting funny money practices. At some point, the duct tape stops working and the value of the currency goes down the drain.

Global High Yield and Emerging Market Debt

Whilst most credit sectors are recovering well, corporate high yield debt and emerging market debt are on life support. The US high debt market has recovered around half of the losses that occurred since mid-February. However, this has been a quality driven rally with BB rated companies able to issue whilst B- and CCC rated companies are stuck in the doghouse. Several failed transactions have been a clear warning that lenders have little appetite for companies that can’t demonstrate their solvency in the medium term. The weaker airlines, energy companies and tourism associated businesses are looking at their cash positions and making calls about when to enter bankruptcy.

It’s a similar outlook for the weaker sovereign borrowers, particularly in emerging markets. The years leading up to this crisis saw an explosion in lending to the lowest rated sovereigns. Many of these countries are now turning to the IMF for bailouts; at last count roughly half of the world’s countries had put their hands up for help. There’s a global wave of jobs that will be lost as the weakest companies and countries are forced to reign in their spending. Whilst investors are pricing in a solid probability of defaults, they are ignoring the wider economic impacts of defaulting borrowers on the global economy.

Written by Jonathan Rochford for Narrow Road Capital on 16 May 2020. Comments and criticisms are welcomed and can be sent to info@narrowroadcapital.com

Disclosure

This article has been prepared for educational purposes and is in no way meant to be a substitute for professional and tailored financial advice. It contains information derived and sourced from a broad list of third parties and has been prepared on the basis that this third party information is accurate. This article expresses the views of the author at a point in time, and such views may change in the future with no obligation on Narrow Road Capital or the author to publicly update these views. Narrow Road Capital advises on and invests in a wide range of securities, including securities linked to the performance of various companies and financial institutions.

China’s bullying is a blessing in disguise

We should view China’s recent bullying as a blessing in disguise. Our government should resist quickly bending to its will for we would only embolden Beijing by such a rapid display of weakness.

China’s true colours are on display. Barley tariffs, meat bans and now minerals are up for debate. All because we wish to have an inquiry into the beginnings of the virus.

We are not blameless. Our universities squeezed the Chinese student lemon until the pips squeaked. These educational institutions never built in contingencies. They are culpable for such pathetic risk management processes. Our property market has benefited from Chinese investment. Our primary industries rode the back of this panda and now fear they could end up inside.

However China is welcome to source its coal from Indonesia if it so chooses. We have globally competitive cost curves which would be welcomed in other nations.

Of course there will be short term disruptions but the entire global supply chain is being rewritten. That can only be in our favour. We aren’t playing aggressor while covering up a pandemic. This isn’t lost on most of the world, even if governments might tiptoe around the subject.

We should be revitalizing our relationship with Japan. At least we know when we sign a contract, the Japanese will stick to it rather than the Chinese style of starting negotiations after a deal is inked.

Why would we move away from our relationship with America? Much more opportunities in partnering with the US and India as well.

Chinese military aggression is self evident. Its investment in defence and space is exponential. While a fraction of US military spending the Chinese power projections in the South China Sea as well as the Paracels, Spratly and Senkaku Islands should raise concerns. Man made military island bases in the Pacific as well as ‘trading’ ports around the world which would welcome Chinese naval vessels.

Don’t take our word for it. Japan revealed in its 2019 Defense White Paper just how much China has been toying with it. Look at the trend of Japanese Air Self Defense Force jet scrambles to intercept Chinese military aircraft approaching its shores. Less than 100 a decade ago to over 600 in 2018.

The map at the top of this post shows how many times PLA Navy ships have sailed through Japanese territorial waters in what would be our equivalent of the Indonesian Navy sailing through the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania without warning.

China’s true colours should make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. While China has trapped many countries in debt turning them into financial colonies, this pandemic will create a world that wants to rely less on China. The Middle Kingdom might be a formidable trading bloc but its domestic economy is challenged and the louder the external rhetoric, the more we know how much it is hurting inside.

We needn’t fold at the prospect of threats. Best forge new all weather friendships. China will quickly learn how fast the world that is not in debt slavery to it will ignore the Forbidden City. We can forget pandering to the Paris Accord which China ignores while we are at it.