Geopolitics

If this is the extent of oppression, the war is almost won, no?

Redskins

It is hard to keep up with the cancel culture – ripping down statues of historic figures who freed slaves, cancelling 80 year-old movies, banning comedies, stopping production of skin creams, renaming pancake syrup, and now children’s candy. So many products that nobody raised a whimper over for decades now all of a sudden have been deemed racist and we are drowning in nauseating woke apologies from corporate PR departments, many of whom have highly challenged pasts themselves meaning they are in no position to lecture the rest of us.

Now Australian candies, Redskins and Chicos will be renamed. Nestle, the owner of the Allens brand, wrote,

This decision acknowledges the need to ensure that nothing we do marginalises our friends, neighbours and colleagues...the names have overtones which are out of step with Nestle’s values, which are rooted in respect.

Can Nestle give us a comprehensive list of the number of complaints made because of these names? Has anyone seriously been triggered in their local supermarket when buying these products?

We wonder whether these acts have less to do with racism and more to do with polishing tarnished reputations unrelated to BLM. This site lists 10 most outrageous Nestle scandals. We have not verified these claims.

Seriously, if the name of candies or skin creams is the extent of the oppression of minorities, the war on racism has been largely won, no?

We wrote a while back about the removal of the Chief Wahoo caricature from the Cleveland Indians’ uniform, used since 1915,  by activist pressure.

Douglas Cardinal, an indigenous Canadian activist who pushed for the Cleveland team logo change said that “I had been thinking about the problems we have as a community with the issue of suicide, and I think there is a direct correlation between these kinds of depictions of our people as inferior and as caricatures to be mocked. It is wrong and it must stop.

Remember the same noise was made about the name of the Washington Redskins NFL team. Why not listen to the Native American community? In May 2016, the heavily left-leaning WaPo released a poll targeted at self-identified Native Americans which produced the same results as the Annenberg poll of 2004. That is 90% of the respondents were “not bothered” by the team’s name.

Perhaps the question should be put back to the activists. Can they guarantee that after the removal of the stigma caused by these supposedly inappropriate product names that alcohol-related deaths, diabetes and tuberculosis, which are way above the national average, will plummet? Will the highest rate of intimate partner violence or child abuse and neglect among the Native American community fall off a cliff by the removal of the name of candy in Australia? After all, it is they who push the idea of direct correlation. If nothing changes, what will have been the point of all this virtue signalling?

Hypocrisy in the way the West deals with (certain) faiths is rife too. The tragedy that was the Christchurch terror attack has led the Canterbury Crusaders rugby team to reconsider its name so as not to offend Muslims. Devout Muslim Sonny Bill Williams even played for the side after his conversion to Islam. Didn’t seem to phase him and he didn’t protest once. Although he did take exception to the Bank of NZ sponsorship displayed on his uniform as it conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Where have those same activists been to bully The Saracens in Middlesex to select a more palatable name for the sake of countless victims of Islamic terror in the UK?

What we do know to be an absolute truth is that whatever we cede to the mob, it will never be enough.

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.

UN adds value to the coronavirus crisis

No photo description available.

You know we must be close to conquering coronavirus for the UN to returning to this type of non-gendered language nonsense. Nothing like a bit of identity politics to help those who face stark economic hardships feel better knowing that while they have lost their jobs and homes they can rest assured that verbal dignity will be upheld. Perhaps those who are outraged at Trump’s ultimatum to defund WHO might look to this type of garbage and question why so much money goes to the UN as well?

Japan aggressively steps up its Space investment

It wasn’t so long ago that the mainstream media went into a frenzy over the Space Force logo mimicking Star Trek’s Starfleet Command. Never mind that the US Army Air Force had used the delta symbol since 1942. Never mind that the Air Force Space Command has had the following insignia since it’s inception in 1982. As you can see the delta and globe shapes comes from that. We run through the history here. Such is the chronic nature of Trump Derangement Syndrome that no cure has yet been found.

Of course, the Trump-haters bashed him senseless over the moves to grant Space Force an independent status on the basis that he was indulging his immaturity. We have written for over a decade that the US has held deep concerns for its space assets given the astronomic (no pun intended) rise in China’s home-grown space technology which jeopardizes America’s ability to manage its huge military arsenal that relies so heavily on satellites.

China established the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) at the end of 2015 with a mission responsible for outer space, cyberspace, and electronic warfare. Where was the media bashing President Xi for this petulant behaviour?

Space investment has grown globally. In 2018, China launched 29 military satellites, exceeding six for the United States and eight for Russia.

So it made perfect sense to give the US Space Force proper recognition to counter the growing threats in orbit.

China to Launch 3 Astronauts to Chinese Space Station in June

Japan has raised similar concerns as the US. It will expand its own space investment under the name of Space Operations Squadron.

Janes Defense Weekly reported

The new squadron, which will now conduct personnel training and system planning in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and US forces, will be in charge of operating a space surveillance system designed to track space debris and the position of satellites in order to avoid collisions in space…The system, which includes a network of ground radars, has also been designed to monitor the activities of satellites of countries that may seek to disrupt Japanese and/or US satellite operations through, for instance, the use of anti-satellite missiles, laser irradiation, communication jamming, or so-called ‘killer satellites’.

Japan’s 2019 Defense White Paper openly states the growing risks in space.

There is no concept of national borders in outer space, meaning that the utilization of satellites enables the observation of, communication at, and positioning on any area on the Earth. Thus, major countries make efforts to enhance the capabilities of a variety of satellites and launch them for the purpose of enhancing C4ISR functions. Such satellites include image acquisition satellites for reconnoitring military facilities and targets, early-warning satellites for detecting the launch of ballistic missiles, for gathering radio signals, communication satellites for communications between military units, and positioning satellites for navigating naval vessels and aircraft and enhancing the precision of weapons systems. In outer space, various countries are thus rapidly developing their capabilities to ensure their military superiority.

From the viewpoint of ensuring their military superiority, various countries are also rapidly developing their capabilities to impede each other’s use of outer space.

So before the mainstream media pillories Trump over Space Force, if the most pacifist nation on earth is stepping up its investment substantially, know that there is a method in the madness. Weaponizing space isn’t about indulging childhood SciFi TV programs but navigating unchartered waters in military defence capability. It is nothing to be scoffed at.

17yo truant should go back to school to learn economics

CLies IT

It has been refreshing hardly seeing our 17-yo truant in chief, Greta Thunberg being exploited by her climate change doomsayers during this coronacrisis. Unfortunately, she caved to the attention deficit by feeling compelled to say she had contracted COVID19 despite not being tested for it. Not atypical of social media-obsessed kids these days.

Alas, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day came for her to come out of hibernation and tell us,

Whether we like it or not, the world has changed. It looks completely different now from how it did a few months ago. It may never look the same again. We have to choose a new way forward

Indeed it has changed and will change. However, we believe that the coming economic depression won’t lend itself kindly to the untested prospect of a “green jobs” boom. This idea that we can sit back and flood the world with renewables to save us all. It is unworkable in practice. Why?

Let’s take the CSIRO, Australia’s chief government science body.

Why hasn’t Greta made a b-line to reference our CSIRO’s energy transition costings for Australia which exceed $1 trillion with a “T” out to 2050 (p.135)? Note this report isn’t a net-zero study – just lower emissions. So by that logic, net-zero will cost even more. c.100% of GDP. Just as tax revenues are about to go through the floor.

You will feel even warm and fuzzier after reading the next sentence.

CSIRO assures us that “these costs do not include the full integration costs of renewables, but that these costs are expected to be significantly less than $175 billion.” Who cares about billions in a world of trillions? Significantly less?

Why aren’t politicians and Greta looking at the world’s biggest renewable crash test dummy?

As we wrote, “Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors was even more forthright about the failures of renewables…The shift to renewables, the federal auditors say, has cost at least 160 billion euros in the last five years. Meanwhile, the expenditures “are in extreme disproportion to the results…”

Note 330,000 German households are in a state of energy poverty and have had their electricity provider cut them off. That is what happens when projected electricity prices at the time of the hysteria end up double that of the initial costings. Oops.

Yet, how eager are supposed activists willing to sign up to the green movement in practice?

We have a home-grown movement to reference commitment to climate change. 98.9% of households in the electorate of Warringah, that supposedly voted Zali Steggall OAM MP in on a climate change ticket, still haven’t signed up to her ‘Roadmap to Zero’ plans. Given their high powered V8 SUVs are getting one month to the gallon these devout climate change alarmists don’t seem that interested.

What about those on the front lines of the climate crisis? Surely they know best?

When we studied the language within the last 10 years of annual reports of the state fire services around Australia, why was ‘climate change‘, the words that 29 former fire chiefs told us is such a big factor, barely mentioned, if at all? Take Fire & Rescue NSW’s only mention of ‘climate change‘ on p.81 of its 2018/19 Annual Report,

Where practicable, FRNSW crews were encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights on 30 March 2019 from 8:30pm until 9:30pm, joining millions of people worldwide in showing their commitment to tackling climate change and inspiring all generations to support environmental initiatives and sustainable climate policy.

That will do it!

Then what of green jobs?

We keep on hearing about a huge surge in “green jobs”. The ABS reported that after 5 years of straight declines, rooftop solar has been the driver of the rise in the past two years.

Annual direct FTE employment in renewable energy activities in Australia was estimated at 17,740 jobs in 2017-18, an increase of 3,890 jobs in FTE employment (28%) from the previous year (2016-17) and represents the highest level of FTE employment in renewable energy activities since 2011-12...driven by an increase in construction activity for large scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (1,950 additional FTE jobs) and roof-top solar PV (1,720 additional FTE jobs). Together, these two renewable energy types accounted for 94% of this increase in FTE employment in renewable energy.

The ABS notes there are 12,500,000 Aussies employed. Therefore full-time green jobs make up 0.14% of the total. Construction makes up 1.056m jobs. Manufacturing employs 770,000. Combined, these sectors make up 15% of all employed.

So our two biggest sectors employ 107x more than the peak in renewables FT employment.

In short

While Democrat Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez brainlessly tweeted you love to see it when referring to the recent trend in negative oil prices, restless natives around the globe will not tolerate governments that pursue green policies that prolong their unemployment pain. They want jobs, not spoon-fed ideological alarmism as their saviour.

This global lockdown is doing one important thing – waking us up to unpleasant truths. Comforting lies surrounding renewables investment will have no place other than the dining tables of crony capitalists who aren’t dealing with lived experience of scraping by without work. That is not to say we won’t get governments trying to prescribing a “reset” but it will be a one-way ticket to being kicked out of office when the results don’t live up to the promises.

Forget what Trump says. Just pay attention to the restless natives

Investor: Peasants Will Be Out With Pitchforks if We Don't Start ...

Unless Joe Biden runs with Michelle Obama as his VP, we still think Trump gets reelected in an electoral college and popular landslide. Yes, we can hear many laughing out loud. We are used to it as we were when we said he would win back in 2015. For all of the same reasons, only amplified. People are tired of the status quo.

Up until the time of the State of the Union speech in February this year, it felt like his second coronation was a formality. Nancy Pelosi knew it when she tore up his speech. Has coronavirus really changed all that?

The prevailing sentiment perpetuated by the mainstream media is that Trump’s catastrophic bungling of coronavirus will kill off any chance he has of winning 2020. To think that Joe Biden is the mouth-watering alternative despite having served under a president whose policies were repudiated in 2016 by the electoral college.

FNF Media thinks that Americans are pragmatic people when push comes to shove and that American exceptionalism is a good thing. They want the dream. They don’t live to be stuck in poverty assessed welfare. Sure, we non-citizens can scoff at their right to bear arms or hosting World Series which exclude other nations but ultimately we don’t get a say. That is a matter for them. If they don’t like it, it is up to them to change their government to fix things. Trump would never have been elected were it not for decades of failed administrations who didn’t deliver that gave birth to him.

Despite all of Trump’s often ridiculous bluster during the coronavirus outbreak, none of it was out of character for the last 3.5 years. The mainstream media has beamed more deranged coverage than ever. People have become numb to the constant drone that they hate him, especially when he trolls them with their own hypocrisy. Let’s be clear, were the likes of CNN truly resonating with the masses, the ratings would reflect people attuned with the rhetoric. This is simply not happening. In fact, the opposite.

Sadly during this crisis, Americans have seen the utterly shameless exploitation of their livelihoods by the ugliest partisan politics seen during any crisis of this scale. They see straight through the pork barrelling. Do liberal-leaning citizens honestly believe that gender diversity on boards and airline emissions regulations are ‘must have’ pieces of legislation in order to pass a $2.2 trillion rescue package designed to protect them? Do they believe a $250 billion supplemented boost to small businesses to support the income of workers should be held back until more identity politics driven data collection is fast-tracked? When people see Nancy Pelosi parading her $24,000 refrigerators filled with $13 a pint ice cream punnets on late-night TV they aren’t amused. 

Is it any wonder so many more Americans are taking to the streets to protests the lockdowns imposed by the states’ governors? As we pointed out in the COVID19 data, those infected and those who tragically met their fate from this deadly virus are relatively minuscule. More and more Americans are seeing this. Very few of us know anyone who has caught it outside of a few celebrities and the UK PM. This is why social distancing is fraying nerves in American households. They can’t easily quantify what is going on using their own experiences.

If anything, these protests point out that Americans are still happy to play the risk/reward ratio if their economic security can be maintained. America hasn’t fluked being 25% of the global economy on 5% of the world’s population for nothing. They would chance contracting coronavirus if that meant being able to feed their families.

Which brings us to China. Trump’s political and media enemies may have cuddled up to China since he took office, but the shambolic WHO response to this crisis and the misinformation emanating from the communist propaganda apparatus will rile 22 million who are on the unemployment queue. More and more Americans can see through an Ethiopian Marxist WHO chief appointed by a Portuguese socialist both serving the communist dictatorship with a president for life.

This activity is red meat to Trump’s base and he knows it. He doesn’t need to say anything. It is becoming self-evident.

Suspending funding for WHO was the right thing to do. WHO is a failing bureaucracy in desperate need of reform. What is the point of funding a body that is supposed to have independence enshrined in its charter when in reality it runs strict political agendas geared to the whims of its ideological brothers in Beijing?

How many leaders of other countries are throwing up two fingers at China in the face of all the revelations about when they knew and how they covered it up? Macron? Merkel? Trudeau? Crickets.

Trump is almost alone in publicly smashing China’s complicity in all of this. Governments around the world may be staying mute over China’s deceit but we can be assured this is not lost on the peons. They have had enough of staying at home. They are sick of facing oppressive sanctions imposed by those they voted in.

The media can sell this as xenophobia or any other form of identity politics but the fact is Trump’s 2016 campaign warned of China. He spoke of bringing jobs back. He spoke of being screwed over on trade with China. He was right.

We all know many Americans are hurting. They want prosperity returned. While the media conflates his term as merely sorting out his billionaire 1%ers, the reality is he has helped the Bottom 50% by a much larger margin. They will know this lived experience, which in politics will ultimately be the most important factor. Trump’s bluster won’t matter. His record up until coronavirus kicked off will.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED) reported the net worth of the bottom half of the population was $1,070,183mn at the start of 2017. As of the third quarter of 2019, it was 1,668,034mn. That’s an increase of 55.86%. The Top 1%, had $29,955,829mn. In 3Q 2019, it was $34,533,370mn, or 15.3%. Under Obama, net worth for the Bottom 50% declined from $1.7 trillion in 1Q 2009 to $1.1 trillion, down 35% over his two terms. Democrats should be outraged that the ultra-wealthy did much better under Obama with a 100% gain in net worth under his term vs the paltry 15.3% so far under Trump.  Source: FRED Top 1% and Bottom 50%.

This might explain why the “forgotten” wanted large scale change and will continue to support those who can facilitate it.

All coronavirus has done is exposed the despicable bile of partisan politics. Witnessing a concerted effort to remove Trump in the midst of an untold financial tsunami will not sit well with people. This isn’t about partisanship. They will want someone that can deliver. If it comes with all of Trump’s vulgarity then so be it. After all, a man that can win an election with ‘p*ssy grabbing’ on the ticket can produce miracles.

So there is Trump’s election strategy in a nutshell – “China, China, China!”

Good luck with Joe Biden telling Americans that President Xi has America’s best interests at heart! How can he say this when his former boss was not greeted with red carpet, a mobile stairway or a welcoming committee of important dignitaries on his final state visit to China?

Forget the polls. Forget the media spin. Coronavirus has hit the raw nerve of patriotism and the one person who is accused of constantly lying will be the only one speaking the truth. Americans are at a crisis point. Best not question their loyalty to Old Glory.

We may hate the idea of a new cold war but that is up to Americans to decide. We are at their mercy. Ultimately it is best to have a strong America given China’s soft power expansion.

The folly of endorsements

The last time we found Elizabeth ‘Fauxcahontas’ Warren talking of endorsements it was a group of hateful feminists – 3,400 of them to be precise – who threw their weight behind her.

Supposedly the backbone of democracy she spoke of came from the likes of the BlackWomxnFor (BWF) movement, which states on its own website,

“THE SPACES CREATED BY BLACK WOMXN FOR ARE INTENTIONALLY INCLUSIVE OF ALL BLACK FOLKS THAT DO NOT CLAIM MALE IDENTITY.

THIS INCLUDES BLACK TRANS & CIS WOMEN, GENDER NON-CONFORMING FOLKS AND OTHERS.”

Yes, inclusivity must have exclusion at its heart. Liberal logic at its finest.

Now that Biden has Warren’s support, will this old white male who challenges voters to tests of toxic masculinity get the support of those that supported her?

Will Biden be awaiting Julian Castro’s endorsement? Recall the senator stated he wanted to guarantee that trans females would have full access to abortions during the Democratic Party primaries. When Castro dropped out he threw his weight behind Warren even though his supporters backed Biden. So much for knowing the mood of one’s following.

At last, Obama has finally got around to backing his former VP. How eerily silent the former president was when allegations about his creepy nature around pre-pubescent girls came to light.  Despite Obama awarding  Biden with a Presidential Medal of Freedom and saying he was the best VP in American history, not one word had parsed his lips in terms of an endorsement.

In what CNN hopes is fake news, the cable network noted that more than 200 former staffers that worked in former President Barack Obama’s campaigns and administration signed a letter endorsing Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential run.

Did Obama realise that Biden said at the time of his staffer’s progressive support for Warren, “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.

Biden said he wanted to put Obama on the SCOTUS bench as an election campaign manifesto, if he’d take it.

Obama’s administration is often credited with “zero scandals” recall his DoJ was so crooked a Texas District Court judge, Andrew S. Hanen, ordered its lawyers to undergo 5 years of compulsory ethics training in 2016 for deliberately misleading the court over illegal immigration. He also ordered AG Loretta Lynch to file a comprehensive plan within 60 days on how to “prevent this unethical conduct from ever happening again.”

Will Biden ask for Obama’s campaign team for help? They said at the time,

We are a group that really uniquely knows that electability is self-determining and that oftentimes it’s the people with the boldest vision and the most unlikely candidacies early on who can really shift the field…Sen. Warren really has the zest and the grit and the gumption and the audacity that we loved that President Obama really embodied.

Just how much value can one put in an endorsement? Because the endorsers of his endorser originally endorsed someone else.

Our view is this election won’t be based solely on the characters per se. There is so much material on both candidates when it comes to gaffes. Lived experience is what is at play here. Telling people they’ve never had it so good when they are struggling doesn’t win votes, which is why Trump won in 2016. This was our thinking at that time. Forget massaged data emanating from the White House marketing departments. It only pushes people the other way. 

The 2020 election will be a test of Americans resolve to be able to live out the American dream. If they vote in Biden and go back to the very administrations of the past that failed to deliver for decades we’ll know they’ve thrown in the towel. If the Bottom 50% believe that the positive change in fortunes under Trump – which we pointed out in the SOTU – before COVID19 shut down the economy, he is still very much in the race. The media will undoubtedly try and play the race card against Trump’s anti-China rhetoric, but never come between an American and patriotism in a crisis.

The one fatal flaw experts forget when seeking to mimic #Abenomics style endurance

Pain

Over three decades ago, the Japanese introduced a TV programme titled, ‘Za Gaman‘ which stood for ‘endurance‘. It gathered a whole bunch of male university students who were challenged with barbaric events which tested their ability to endure pain because the producer thought these kids were too soft and self-entitled. Games included being chained to a truck and dragged along a gravel road with only one’s bare buttocks. Another was to be suspended upside down in an Egyptian desert where men with magnifying glasses trained the sun’s beam on their nipples while burning hot sand was tossed on them. The winner was the one who could last the longest.

Since the Japanese bubble collapsed in the early 1990s, a plethora of think tanks and central banks have run scenario analyses on how to avoid the pitfalls of a protracted period of deflation and low growth that plagued Japan’s lost decades. They think they could do far better. We disagree.

There is one absolutely fatal flaw with all arguments made by the West. The Japanese are conditioned in shared suffering. Of course, it comes with a large slice of reluctance but when presented with the alternatives the government knew ‘gaman’ would be accepted by the nation. It was right.

We like to think of Japan, not as capitalism with warts but socialism with beauty spots. Having lived there for twenty years we have to commend such commitment to social adhesion. It is a large part of the fabric of Japanese culture which is steeped in mutual respect. If the West had one lesson to learn from Japan it would be this. Unfortunately, greed, individualism and self-entitlement will be our Achilles’ heels.

It is worth noting that even Japan has its limits. At a grassroots level, we are witnessing the accelerated fraying of that social kimono. Here are 10 facts taken from our ‘Crime in Japan‘ series – ‘Geriatric Jailbirds‘, ‘Breakup of the Nuclear Family‘ and the ‘Fraud, Drugs, Murders, Yakuza and the Police‘ which point to that old adage that ‘all is not what it seems!

  1. Those aged over 65yo comprise 40% of all shoplifting in Japan and represent the highest cohort in Japanese prisons.
  2. 40% of the elderly in prison have committed the same crime 6x or more. They are breaking into prison to get adequate shelter, food and healthcare.
  3. Such has been the influx in elderly felons that the Ministry of Justice has expanded prison capacity 50% and directed more healthcare resources to cope with the surge in ageing inmates.
  4. To make way for more elderly inmates more yakuza gangsters have been released early.
  5. 25% of all weddings in Japan are shotgun.
  6. Child abuse cases in Japan have skyrocketed 25x in the last 20 years.
  7. Single-parent households comprise 25% of the total up from 15% in 1990.
  8. Domestic violence claims have quadrupled since 2005. The police have had to introduce a new category of DV that is for divorced couples living under the same roof (due to economic circumstances).
  9. The tenet of lifetime employment is breaking down leading to a trebling of labour disputes being recorded as bullying or harassment.
  10. In 2007, the government changed the law entitling wives to up to half of their husband’s pension leading to a surge in divorces.

These pressures were occurring well before the introduction of Abenomics – the three arrow strategy of PM Shinzo Abe – 1) aggressive monetary policy, 2) fiscal consolidation and 3) structural reform.

Since 2013, Abenomics seemed to be working. Economic growth picked up nicely and even inflation seemed like it might hit a sustainable trajectory. Luckily, Japan had the benefit of a debt-fueled global economy to tow it along. This is something the West and Japan will not have the luxury of when the coronavirus economic shutdown ends.

However, Japan’s ageing society is having an impact on the social contract, especially in the regional areas. We wrote a piece in February 2017, titled ‘Make Japan Great Again‘ where we analysed the mass exodus from the regions to the big cities in order to escape the rapidly deteriorating economic prospects in the countryside.

Almost 25 years ago, the Japanese government embarked on a program known as
‘shichosongappei’ (市町村合併)which loosely translates as mergers of cities and towns. The total number of towns halved in that period so local governments could consolidate services, schools and local hospitals. Not dissimilar to a business downsizing during a recession.

While the population growth of some Western economies might look promising versus Japan, we are kidding ourselves to think we can copy and paste what Nippon accomplished when we have relatively little social cohesion. What worked for them won’t necessarily apply with our more mercenary approach to economic systems, financial risk and social values.

Sure, we can embark on a path that racks up huge debts. We can buy up distressed debt and repackage it as investment grade but there is a terminal velocity with this approach.

The Bank of Japan is a canary in the coalmine. It has bought 58% of all ETFs outstanding which makes up 25% of the market. This is unsustainable. The BoJ is now a top 10 shareholder of over half of all listed stocks on the index. At what point will investors be able to adequately price risk when the BoJ sits like a lead balloon on the shareholder registry of Mitsui Bussan or Panasonic?

Will Boeing investors start to question their investment when the US Fed (we think it eventually gets approval to buy stocks) becomes the largest shareholder via the back door? Is the cradle of capitalism prepared to accept quasi state-owned enterprises? Are we to blindly sit back and just accept this fate despite this reduction in liquidity?

This is what 7 years of Abenomics has brought us. The BoJ already has in excess of 100% of GDP in assets on its balance sheet, up from c.20% when the first arrow was fired. We shouldn’t forget that there have been discussions to buy all ¥1,000 trillion of outstanding Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) and convert them into zero-coupon perpetual bonds with a mild administration fee to legitimise the asset. Will global markets take nicely to erasing 2 years worth of GDP with a printing press?

Who will determine the value of those assets when the BoJ or any other central bank for that matter is both the buyer and seller. If the private sector was caught in this scale of market manipulation they’d be fined billions and the perpetrators would end up serving long jail sentences.

Can we honestly accept continual debt financing of our own budget deficit? Japan has a ¥100 trillion national budget. ¥60 trillion is funded by taxes. The remainder of ¥40 trillion (US$400 billion) is debt-financed every single year. Can we accept the RBA printing off whatever we need every year to close the deficit for decade upon decade?

In a nutshell, we can be assured that central banks and treasuries around the world will be dusting off the old reports of how to escape the malaise we are in. Our view is that they will fail.

What will start off as a promising execution of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), rational economics will dictate that the gap between the haves and the have nots will grow even wider. Someone will miss out. Governments will act like novice plate spinners with all of the expected consequences.

In our opinion, the world will change in ways most are not prepared for. We think the power of populism has only started. National interests will be all that matters. Political correctness will cease. Identity politics will die. All the average punter will care about is whether they can feed their family. Nothing else will matter. Climate change will be a footnote in history as evidenced by the apparition that was Greta Thunberg who had to tell the world she caught COVID19 even though she was never tested.

Moving forward, our political class will no longer be able to duck and weave. Only those that are prepared to tell it like it is will survive going forward. The constituents won’t settle for anything else. Treat them as mugs and face the consequences, just like we saw with Boris Johnson’s landslide to push through Brexit.

The upcoming 2020 presidential election will shake America to its foundations. Do voters want to go back to the safety of a known quantity that didn’t deliver for decades under previous administrations and elect Biden or still chance Project Molotov Cocktail with Trump?

What we know for sure is that Trump would never have seen the light of day had decades of previous administrations competently managed the economy. COVID19 may ultimately work in Trump’s favour because his record, as we fact-checked at the time of SOTU, was making a considerable difference.

Whatever the result, prepare to gaman!

 

Who the hell is Leeroy Jenkins?

One of the more uniques ways of describing the behaviour of the US Fed. Zerohedge noted that the Fed has gone full Leeroy Jenkins. Who the hell is Leeroy Jenkins?

As you will see in the video clip, the team gamers are discussing a coordinated strategy to defeat the monsters waiting in the next stage of the game. Unfortunately one of the gamers, Leeroy Johnson takes matters into his own hands.

Since 2001, we have continuously said that easy credit would become so addictive. The resulting complacency would turn destructive.

We said that the then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan would go down as the most hated central banker in history. Despite being heckled, laughed at and mocked, we never waivered from the key tenet that his actions and those of the subsequent Fed chairs would ultimately end up in tears.

We should have had that cathartic moment to reset back in 2008/09 (and 2000 for that matter). Instead, we merely doubled down on the very same mistakes that got us into trouble in the first place.

If the Fed moves to support the junk bond market, undeserving companies run by irresponsible boards will be kept on life support instead of the free market being able to set clearing prices and potentially terminate them. Why not let market forces determine whether anything of value remains inside their entrails?

The Fed doesn’t have the power to buy equities yet but surely that is a coming attraction. We have seen how dismally it has worked in Japan.

The Head of Japan’s stock exchange admitted that  Japan’s central bank now owns around 60% of all Japanese Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) which is almost a quarter of the broader market. By stealth, the Bank of Japan has become a top 10 shareholder in almost 50% of listed stocks. In a sense, we have a trend which threatens to turn Japan’s largest businesses into quasi-state-owned enterprises (SoE) by the back door. At what point does it stop? When is enough?

We must accept a new reality where bankruptcy is openly accepted as a cure to weeding out excesses in the economy. Should there be demand, more efficient players can pick up the spoils.

We need this to make people realise that moral hazard isn’t going to be tolerated and personal responsibility is the order of the day. Anyone who is more than happy to have a winner-take-all mentality on the upside must be prepared to accept that the loser has to take all as well. Why should Main St bailout people who poorly assessed personal risk because our authorities provided a platform that encouraged the behaviour?

Let us not kid ourselves. There are no excuses in the game of greed. Lessons need to be taught to avoid such calamities in the future.

Sadly, our authorities will reject that advice and continue to fool around using the same reckless tools tried making us pay an ultimately higher price.

Buy Gold.

Only one you can’t stop crashing at your place during COVID19 is the economy

Warning Signs Investors Ignored Before the 1929 Stock Market Crash ...

Brace yourself.

COVID19 will be defeated but the cure is turning out to be way worse than the disease.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that at the rate governments are tightening legislation to keep us in shut down mode, we are day-by-day staring at a great depression.

While some will praise governments for throwing the kitchen sink at the economy with all manner of stimulus packages, the relief will be temporary because all of the ammunition for a sustainable recovery had been depleted years earlier. It is like supplying an alcoholic on rehab with an all-you-can-drink open bar.

Our feckless RBA has just embarked on QE, a mission that has failed every other central bank that has tried it. The velocity of money has been falling for decades. Who will be given access to borrowing at zero interest rates when the economy is in freefall? Which banks will lend against properties that will likely implode in value? 50% down? To think of all the reckless “first home buyer” schemes that loaded young people at the top of the property market. The RBA has been complicit. Not wanting to put pressure on the government to reform, it just kept cutting rates to keep housing afloat. It was totally negligent in its duty even though it will signal its role as a rescuer of last resort.

When will banks be forced to mark to book the value of mortgages on their balance sheet? Equity is thin as it is. 15-20% equity buffer to mortgages is pretty wafer-thin. They need to do this immediately so we can properly assess risk. Forget stress tests by APRA. They’re meaningless. Our housing market will collapse with higher unemployment. 50% falls from here are possible. Remember there will be hardly any buyers. Prices fell up to 90% in Japan after its property bubble popped.

Worse our regulators have been asleep at the wheel chasing financial institutions on their commitment to climate change, the absolute least relevant metric to save them from here. It shows how complacent they became.

Australia has made some interesting crisis policy choices. For instance, PM Scott Morrison is trying to pass rent moratoriums where landlords suspend payments from tenants until things return to normalcy. It is not enshrined in law yet. In principle that is a nice gesture even if the government is subsidizing the banks for forgone interest due to short term loan repayment moratoriums. Let’s assume this continues for 6 months. Apart from the astronomical size of the subsidy, who will ultimately end up sacrificing the 6 months? Landlords? It won’t be the tenants.

Shouldn’t landlords be free to choose whether they are prepared to forgo rent or not as a purely rational business proposition? Shouldn’t a landlord be free to enforce a rental agreement? Will contracts matter anymore?

At some stage, the free market must be allowed to function and the government will hit a tipping point of weighing stopping economic armageddon by allowing businesses to function and the marginal risk of infections. The people will be crying for this if shutdowns remain.

Landlords may be labelled un-Australian or worse but in 6 months time, if unemployment has surged to nose bleed levels well above the 6% we saw during GFC at what point will disposable income be able to support a daily coffee at a cafe?

A cafe might soldier on for a further 3 months on skeleton staff before realising that they can’t cover costs. A landlord would be well within reason to demand that early cancellation clauses and fees are enforced.

Then what of all the invoices to coffee suppliers, bakeries who provide muffins and croissants and utilities? Who misses out? What about the invoices of the coffee supplier? Will the bakery get called on by its flour supplier to pay upfront for future deliveries when it has no operating cash flow, instead of the long-standing 60-90 day terms? That happens overnight. It isn’t a managed outcome. Cash is king.

The question is why hasn’t the government taken advice from the banks on business lending so it can better assess the risks involved from those that deal every day with small companies?

We can’t just shut an economy down for 6 months and expect a return to normal when it is all over. Unemployment rates are likely to surge well above 10%.

As we wrote in an earlier piece, there are 13.1 million Australians employed as of February 2020. Full-time employment amounted to 8,885,600 persons and part-time employment to 4,124,500 persons. Retail trade jobs come in at a shade over 1.2 million jobs. Construction at 1.15 million. Education 1.1 million. Accommodation/restaurants /bars etc at 900,000. Manufacturing another 900,000. Noticing a trend in our employment gearing?

We can fudge the unemployment figures however we like. We can pay $1,500 a fortnight for 6,000,000 workers to pretend they still have a job. That is $18bn a month. The PM can talk about how this will help us bounce on the other side. If it continues for just over 6-months can the budgeted $130 billion will be spent. This is separate to NewStart payments too.

Yet, will people lavishly spend or pay down debt and economise as best they can? We think the latter unless moral hazard has truly sunk in.

What people need to understand is that our Treasury expects to raise $472.8 billion in taxes for FY2019-20. Throw in sales of services, interest and dividend income and that climbs to a total of $511 billion. Expenses are forecast at $503 billion. In the following three years Treasury anticipates $490.0 billion,  $514.4 billion and $528.9 billion in taxes. Expect those totals to be cut significantly.

So if ScoMo’s JobKeeper rescue package for workers goes beyond 6 months, that is equivalent to 27% of annual tax revenues. That doesn’t take into account the slug to tax collections of lower GST and vastly lower income tax for individuals and corporates. That is just at the federal level.

Note, states such as NSW have recently waived payroll taxes for small businesses in a  $2.3bn stimulus package. We shouldn’t forget that the NSW Government is the largest employer in the Southern Hemisphere at 327,000 staff.

We remind readers that according to the RBA small businesses employ 47% of the workforce. Medium enterprises employ 23%. That is 70% of the entire workforce who are most at risk from a slowdown.

In 2019-20 income tax collections will make up $220 billion. Company tax was forecast to generate $99.8 billion. GST $67.2 billion. Excise taxes (petrol, diesel, tobacco etc) $44.7 billion. This data can be found on page 21 here.

Local cafes are reporting a 60~80% fall in revenue. Pretty much all casuals have been let go. It is a bit hard to survive on coffee when a lot of stores aren’t stocking pastries for fear of spoilage.

It is not hard to assume a scenario where government income taxes fall to $160 billion (-28%) due to mass layoffs. One assumes many people will be able to get a tax rebate come June 30th. So this number may end up being conservative on an annualised basis.

Company tax could plunge to $40 billion annualised due to the drastic fall in revenues as customers change the manner of contracts and reign in their own spending. Anyone that thinks that business will resume as normal is crazy. The ripple effects will be huge.

Excise taxes may drift to $35 billion as people cut back on drink (currently $7bn in tax revenue), are limited in places to drive negating the need to fill up (currently $18bn in total tax take). The $17 billion in tobacco excise may weather the storm better than most.

GST could fall to $50 billion. People just aren’t spending much outside of food. Massive retail discounts will not make much difference. GST will be the best indicator of how much the economy has slowed. Even if we start to see a massaging of the GDP numbers, GST won’t lie. It will be the safest indicator.

If our assumed tax revenue sums to $285 billion annualised from the budgeted $472 billion that equates to a 40% haircut.

Trim the ‘other revenue’ column to $30 billion from $39 billion and we have $315bn. Will the government then chop away at the $503 billion in expenses? All of the stimuli doesn’t arrive at once but a lot of it in relatively short order. Surely a $300~400 billion deficit is a fait accompli?

We should also anticipate forward year tax revenues be cut c.30% for several years after. The question is when does the government realise that it must cut the public service and scrap wasteful projects like French submarines and other nice-to-have quangos? We won’t see a budget surplus for decades.

We must careful not to fall into the trap Japan finds itself in. It has a US$1 trillion budget funded by US$600bn in taxes and US$400bn in JGB issuance. Every. Single. Year.

Nothing short of drastic tax and structural reform will do. Instead of behaving more prudently by cutting budgets when we had the chance, instant gratification created by governments desperate to stay in power has only weakened our relative position. Since 2013, the Coalition has been responsible for 46% of the total amount of all debt issued since 1854.

States should quickly realise that the $118 billion in federal grants going forward will also be curtailed. NSW will likely fare the worst because its financial position is by far the best.

If the government had a proper plan, it would be looking to what essential industries have been given up to the likes of China that we need to onshore. Medical equipment, masks or sanitiser. For cricketer Shane Warne to be converting his Seven Zero Eight gin factory to produce hand sanitiser shows how much of a joke our local manufacturing has become.

We must never forget that a Chinese government-owned company displayed the Communist Party’s mercenary credentials by (legally) buying 3,000,000 surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of gloves and bulk supplies of sanitiser and wipes. So not only was it responsible for covering up the truth surrounding the virus in the early stages of the pandemic, we openly let it compromise our ability to combat the virus when it hit our shores.

China has shown it doesn’t give a hoot for ordinary Australians. So why should we continue to fold to its whims and cowardly surrender our industries for fear it’ll stop dealing with us? It is nonsense. We have some of the highest quality mineral resources which it depends on. We can bargain. We have chosen to appease a bully.

Our Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) needs to be far more vigilant to prevent takeovers by Chinese businesses. We should openly accept the way China conducts business practices and recognise that it is often incompatible with ours when national security is at stake. Surely this crisis has highlighted the true colours of the political system in Beijing.

That leads us to Japanese companies. Many are seriously cashed up, have a favourable exchange rate and have a long-standing history of partnering with local businesses. We should be prioritising our relationship with Japan and look to have them invest in our inevitable capital works programs – specifically high-speed rail. It is the type of project that has meaning for the future and a long enough timeline to turn an economy around.

People need to be prepared for the reckoning. There is no point softening the blow. The brutal truth will eventually arrive and we will have only put ourselves in an even weaker position with the policy suite enacted so far. Time to be rational about risk/reward. Whether we like it or not, the minimum wage will need to be cut substantially in order to get the jobs market alive again. Don’t worry, unemployment will be so high that people will demand minimum wages are cut because it is far superior to the alternative!

(Time to ditch your industry super and start shovelling your superannuation into gold)