#QLD

Never let a good crisis go to waste – Part 2

Michigan Conservatives Plan To Protest April 15th ...

Small businesses employ 50% of all Americans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) distributed 1.4 million loans worth $350 billion under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It has now run dry. Small businesses are seeking these loans which stipulate the funds must be directed to pay employees coping with coronavirus. Typically, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are trying to stuff unrelated partisan pork into the bill in order to back it.

To sustain small businesses, which employ half the country, the SBA is requesting another $250 billion. Yet Pelosi and Schumer want to use the crisis to ram in more unrelated regulations to the PPP with:

  1. significantly increased funding for disaster grants and loans,
  2. additional support for the food-stamp program,
  3. adequate funding for nationwide virus testing and personal protective equipment,
  4. the collection and publication of demographic data so that government can accurately determine the level of impact on under-served communities and communities of colour.

While all of these items may have a place in a separate debate, surely helping half of the country’s employment providers stay alive is the bigger issue. Never mind Pelosi was happy to parade herself on late-night TV in front of her $24,000 refrigerators while the bill is delayed. We don’t begrudge anyone owning nice things, but the optics of a freezer full of $13 ice cream punnets is hardly reflective of the crisis.

It wasn’t long ago that her party wanted to stuff a laundry list of ridiculous unrelated items to the $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus last month including airline emissions standards, corporate board diversity and wind/solar subsidies.

Now that 22 million Americans are out of work, should we be surprised that 3,000 people were protesting in Lansing, Michigan demanding the economy be reopened? Or the 100s of people in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Do they have a point?

Here is the latest data outlining infections as a percentage of the state populations. The average infection rate across the US is 0.2044% of the population. That means that 99.8% of people haven’t caught it. While social distancing is proving effective, one has to wonder whether the economy can be reopened quicker than the lid on Nancy Pelosi’s ice cream.

Infections

Switching to COVID 19 deaths, the national average is 0.0101% of the population. New York, which we lambasted for the insane advice handed out by its Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot has 7.6x the national average. Wyoming, while less densely populated than NYC, has 0.03x the national average.

Deaths

Michigan has a death rate of 0.02%, twice the national average. Its infection count is 0.293% or 50% higher than the national average. North Carolina might have a bigger argument to make. It has a 0.0015% death rate (0.1x the national average) and infections at 0.0542% (0.25x the national average) of the state’s citizens. Why aren’t governors looking to reopen their economies sooner, which is their decision, not Trump’s, to make?

These people rightly want the governors to start opening the economy so they can work. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Never cross an American and their belief in “rights”. We think this once again plays straight to Trump’s reelection. People are seriously frustrated and when they join the unemployment queue they are through with partisan politics.

FNF Media has always thought protests would eventually happen. The risks of contracting coronavirus versus the reward of having a job and feeding a family are now front and centre. They would undoubtedly settle for social distancing guidelines while working instead of remaining in lockdown.

We added Australia’s own state/territory data in those previous charts (yellow) which shows just how minuscule our infections and death rates are. We really need to be looking at easing restrictions sooner, rather than later. These statistics should make us all think.

Trillion Dollar Baby?

What will it take to wake the media up to the fact that the way our government is spending it won’t be long before we are a $1 trillion net debt baby?.

Our current federal liabilities (p.121) stand at $1.002 trillion (which is pre COVID19). Have the media bothered to look at the state of the budget accounts? Or are they too busy lavishing praise on rescue packages which have a finite lifespan.

We pointed out yesterday that the “revenue” line could be decimated by the disruption – huge cuts should be anticipated in the collection of GST, income, company and excise taxes. Not to mention huge rebates to be paid to now unemployed workers. On an annualized basis the revenue line could get thumped 30-40% if this continues for 6 months.

So on the back of an envelope, it is not very hard to work out that with a current $511 billion revenue line looking to fall towards the early to mid $300 billion mark against a projected expense bill of $503 billion a deficit of $150bn will open up. Throw on c$150bn of COVID19 stimuli arriving by June 30th and we get a $300 billion budget deficit. Our net financial worth would grow from minus $518 billion to negative $818 billion.

Rolling into next year, it is ludicrous to think that hibernated businesses will have resumed as normal. This means that the following year’s tax revenue line will look as sick as the previous period. The government will be torn shredding the expense line as unemployment shoots higher so assuming minimal budget cuts, it could face another $200 billion deficit taking it north of $1 trillion net liabilities in a jiffy.

Let’s not forget what the states may face. Severely lower handouts from the federal government via GST receipts which will balloon deficits, a trend we’re already seeing.

The states currently rely on around 37-62% of their revenue from the federal government by way of grants. The balance comes through land/property taxes, motor vehicle registration, gambling and betting fees as well as insurance and environmental levies.

All of those revenues lines can dry up pretty quickly. 40% of state budgets are usually spent on staff. Take a look at these eye watering numbers.

NSW spends $34 billion on salaries across 327,000 employees.

Victoria spends $27 billion across 239,000 public servants.

Queensland uses 224,000 staff which costs $25 billion per annum.

WA’s state workforce is 143,000, costing $12.6 billion.

SA has 90,000 FT employees costing $8.5 billion.

Tasmania 27,000 setting taxpayers back $2.7 billion.

Just the states alone employ over 1.05 million people at a cost of $110 billion pa!! The territories will be relative rounding errors.

A lot of the states have healthy asset lines which are usually full of schools, hospitals, roads and land). These are highly illiquid.

Unfortunately, one of the golden rules often forgotten in accounting is that liabilities often remain immovable objects when asset values get crucified in economic downturns. When markets become illiquid, the value of government assets won’t come at prices marked in the books.

How well will flogging a few public hospitals go down politically to financially stressed constituents?? This is why gross debt is important.

The states have a combined $202 billion outstanding gross debt including leases.

Throw on another $150 billion for unfunded superannuation liabilities. Good luck hitting the “zero by 2035” targets some state have amidst imploding asset markets. It simply won’t happen. If only these liabilities were marked to market rather than suppressed by actuarial accounting. The WA budget paper (p.42) notes the 0.4% bump to the discount rate to lower the pension deficit figure. To be fair, they are far less outrageous than US state pension deficits.

How must the State Gov’t of Queensland be praying that Adani keeps plowing ahead? How Greyhound must regret terminating a contract to ferry construction workers to the mine? We doubt the incumbent government will have a climate change bent in the upcoming Oct 31 state election. See ya.

The trillion dollar federal debt ceiling seems like a formality especially as the chain reaction created by the states puts on more pressure for the federal government to inject rescue packages to prop up their reversal of fortune budgets. It is that trillion with a T headline that will get people’s attention.

In short, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

NSW to lose State of Origin 4 (Adani)

Who’d a thunk? The Queensland Labor Government is fighting for its life. If it means trading principle for expediency, they have chosen the latter path. Even throwing on last-minute ‘infrastructure taxes’ couldn’t halt progress. Adani has been approved.

Labor has spent 8 years obstructing Adani Carmichael from going ahead. After the unlosable election result handed to its federal colleagues, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saw the light. Political suicide was at stake. It won’t stop the inevitable, especially post QLD Treasurer Jackie Trad’s deeper deficits announced this week.

What Greens Senator DiNatale fails to understand (despite saying every election hereon will be a #ClimateElection) is that Queenslanders couldn’t give a hoot for Victorians complaining about their wish to have jobs. The reality is that Adani Carmichael will likely be open for decades to come. It will employ those working at the mines and the local economies that support them.

What evidence has DiNatale got for thousands of jobs being destroyed? It is that level of economic comprehension that means they will remain such a joke as a credible party. Not least helped by the eloquence of NSW MLC Cate Faehrmann who thinks encouraging a blockade in a neighbouring state seems fair game.

There are only supposed to be three games in the State of Origin.  Faehrmann is guaranteed to lose her suggested matchup, much like former Senator Bob Brown’s convoy pre-election warm-up game concluded. Queensland will run rings around the NSW attack, as always!

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Cate Faehrmann plays investor for a day

Investment managers have difficult jobs. They have to forecast a whole plethora of variables from global economic growth, currencies, commodity prices and micro level corporate industries. If governments can provide ironclad policy certainty, investment choices become relatively easier. Unfortunately, perfect information detracts from performance because things get priced almost instantaneously.

It might be nice that 415 funds all call for a ratification of Paris Climate Accord (which means nothing in practice as the US isn’t a signatory and its emissions have fallen while China is a signatory and emissions continue to rise) but truth be told,  it sounds what is commonly termed in financial circles as “talking one’s book.” NSW Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann pretends to understand finance in her latest piece.

While these 415 firms might represent $32 trillion in assets under management (AUM), the truth is not all of those funds are spoken for in terms of climate-related investments. Investment advisors by their very nature have very diverse client bases. They cover basic low-risk pension (i.e. stable income) funds all the way to riskier return profiles for clients that want more exposure to certain themes or countries. If clients aren’t interested in buying climate funds, the asset managers don’t gather fees. Pretty simple.

Much of the fund industry has focused on ESG (environment, social responsibility & governance) since its inception in 2005. ESG represents around $20 trillion of global AUM, or 25% of total professionally managed funds. Therefore the other 75% of monies are deployed without this in mind. In reality, this is done because investment managers must hunt for the best returns, not those which sacrifice profitability for virtue. If NAB offered you a 10% 1-yr deposit and no solar panels on the HQ roof and Westpac offered a 1% 1-yr deposit because it did, would you invest in the latter based on its ecomentalism?

Let’s take the world’s largest public pension fund (2 million members), California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) which is a cosignatory to this demand for climate action. Apart from the fact that this $380bn fund has been so poorly managed (marked to market unfunded liabilities are c.US$1 trillion), its portfolio consists of widespread ownership of met coal, petroleum and other mining assets. It owns bonds in fossil-fuel producing nations such as Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as highly environmentally unfriendly aluminium smelters in the world’s biggest polluter, China. So there goes the rhetoric of “demanding” Paris is ratified, that we shift to a low carbon economy and we force companies to report their carbon commitments.

It is frightening that some members of our political class believe that investment managers which collaborate in groupthink are worthy of listening to. On the contrary, the performance of many must be sub par. It is a sad reality that 80% of large-cap fund managers fail to outperform the index on a regular basis. So praying for governments to backstop investments they deployed capital into shows more desperation than innovation.

Maybe we should think of Adani as a classic example of investment at work. While Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government is backflipping on the Adani Carmichael coal mine after the electoral drubbing handed out to federal colleagues, the voluntary infrastructure tax is a cynical way to try to make the project less financially viable. After 8 years of ridiculous and onerous environmental approvals, Adani probably think it only needs to wait til October 2020 when an election will wipe out Queensland Labor from government and the infrastructure tax will be repealed soon after.

CM has long held that the non-ESG names are the place to invest. Most of the auto-pilot, brain dead, virtue signalling group think money has been poured into ESG. All non-ESG companies care about is profitability, not focusing on all the soft cuddly things they do displayed on the corporate lobby TV screens on a loop. Sadly when markets inevitably implode, investors always seek safe havens to limit the damage. As so much money is collectively invested together, so the bigger the stampede to the relatively attractive values provided by the stocks that have been cast aside by “woke” investors.

If climate scientists were surgeons would you let them operate on you?

Why do our politicians continually recycle and peddle climate experts that have made so many dud predictions? If they were major organ transplant surgeons with this record of failure, would you ask them to operate on you?

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has stumped up $142,000 to hire the Brisbane Convention Centre for former VP Al Gore to lecture on a subject where his prophecies have been way off the mark. The Office of Environment has chosen not to release the full costings. Now that Adani is back on, it makes them look even more stupid for inviting a quack.

Gore made ridiculous statements that Arctic sea ice could be completely gone by 2014. It’s still there. Thicker too.

Who could forget his mysterious absence from the 2009 Copenhagen UN COP summit when the Climategate scandal unfolded.

The National Center for Public Policy Research obtained Gore’s electricity usage information through public records requests and conversations with the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In powering his home, Gore still greatly outpaces most Americans in energy consumption. The findings were shocking:

• The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month.3,4
• Gore guzzles more electricity in one year than the average American family uses in 21 years.5
• In September of 2016, Gore’s home consumed 30,993 kWh in just one month – as much energy as a typical American family burns in 34 months.
• During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.
• From August 2016 through July 2017, Gore spent almost $22,000 on electricity bills.6
• Gore paid an estimated $60,000 to install 33 solar panels. Those solar panels produce an average of 1,092 kWh per month, only 5.7% of Gore’s typical monthly energy consumption.

There is an irony in Palaszczuk’s backflip over Adani. Here she was thinking that Shorten would win and that her anti-coal activist environment team could get some status from Gore to kill it off for good.

Now the cost to save her political career far outweighs the planet. Tells us all we need to know.

Hottest temperatures ever in Australia?

Jo Nova puts together a simple summary of the history of heatwaves in Australia. It is worth reading. Even our Bureau of Meteorology ignores records going back to the 1890s because it fails to fit a narrative. Worse, South Australia (SA) is suffering from blackouts thanks to loony green renewable policies which have seen spot electricity prices surge to $14,500/MWh. Wretched coal fire powered states, NSW & QLD, are in the $105-$110/MWh range. What was the rationale that renewables are cheap, affordable and reliable? The irony is that SA is relying on diesel generators for back up. Thank God for fossil fuels!

Not to worry. We have the world’s elites on 1,500 private jets landing in Davos to tell us we need to save the planet! Their cooler heads will surely prevail.

 

Snigger if you have to but the bigger trigger is in the voter figures

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The latest Galaxy Poll ahead of the Queensland state election on Nov 25 has the One Nation party surging to 18% of the vote. It was a mere 0.9% in 2015. Once again the stench of the two major parties completely buried in political correctness and tip-toeing around issues that are bothering voters are losing their core supporters. Say what you like about One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s “in yer face” style but it appears to be working. For all those that look at anyone who would vote for her as being a bigot, racist or fool, the major parties must do soul searching as to why a growing number of voters would look to select her.

It is one thing to ridicule her voters. It is more telling that these mainstream parties can’t seem to win their trust via sensible policies of their own. Surely even bigots and racists have enough common sense to vote for parties that have the best balance of law making. Yet the LNP and Labor parties continue to bleed support heavily.

Yes we can jump to conclusions by pinning it on the “populist” thematic that seems to be sweeping across the world. People are growing sick on tired of governments that lack accountability, The mass screw ups in public policy. They’re sick of seeing limp wristed responses and more laws that gag voters who question their incompetence.

So to mainstream parties across the world. You need to look within rather than blame voters. You either have dreadful delivery, policy that is out of touch or both. Still you will eventually learn that experience is a hard teacher – you get the test first and the lesson afterwards.