Confidence

Dear Mr Speaker

How is it that Speaker of the UK House of Commons, John Bercow, was seen in Brussels negotiating with the new European Parliament President David Sassoli to prevent a no deal Brexit? Isn’t the speaker’s job to be impartial? Isn’t he supposed to be strictly non-partisan and give up any current or future affiliation to any political party? Isn’t he only supposed to cast a tie break vote and even then, one which follows Speaker Denison rules which advocate pushing it for further debate?

It is no surprise where Bercow’s bias lies. Maybe his wife didn’t affix a ‘Remain’ sticker on the family car afterall…?

Impeachment Trends, Biased Sampling and why Batman knows best

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Monmouth University has conducted an impeachment poll. It is not hard to see where the bias lies. 27% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 43% Independent. In nearly all polls conducted by the university, this is the respondent stack skew. It is so obvious that one could be forgiven for thinking the ABC Q&A programme must be taking the roll call. No surprise that Trump’s approval rating remains firmly stuck in the low 40s according to Monmouth. Monmouth had Hillary Clinton at a 9% lead over Trump in mid-October 2016. CM wonders why? Rasmussen, which was the most consistent and accurate poll leading into the 2016 election, has Trump at 48%, ahead of Obama at the same point in his presidency by 2%.

Monmouth wrote in its most recent poll, “At this time, 44% of Americans feel that Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency, while 52% disagree with this course of action. These numbers mark a shift from Monmouth’s prior poll in August (35% supported impeachment and 59% did not), but it is not the first time these results have been found in the two years Monmouth has been asking this question.”

There is something telling that there have been impeachment talks for over 2 years. Just the subject matter has continually shifted. Maybe the August 2019 Monmouth impeachment poll made the level of reasoning more clear. The 25% Republican, 30% Democrat, 45% Independent produced the following results,

– A good idea or bad idea to impeach Trump. 41% plays 51% respectively,

– Why would it be a good idea to impeach – Top 5 responses – Need to follow evidence (18%), Broken the Law (17%), Moral Character (17%), Bad Policies (16%), Racism (11%).

– Why would it be a bad idea to impeach – Top 5 responses – Trump has done nothing wrong (27%), Waste of Time (22%), Partisan Witch Hunt (13%), Trump has done Good Job (12%), Congress should work on other things (10%).

Interesting to see that racism, moral character and bad policies are viewed as plausible grounds for impeachment. The March 2019 poll from Monmouth, the question put as to whether Democrats are more interested in the truth vs undermining Trump, the results were 31% vs 46% respectively.

So even with a high proportion of skew against Republicans (Consistently at 25-27%), the results are rarely pointing to massive landslides against Trump. It should come as no surprise that when analysing the party affiliation in the poll, there is heavy partisan bias which sort of defeats the purpose of the poll putting out meaningful data. If anything the “independent” people who have contributed to the poll do not seem to be giving Monmouth the results they are hoping to get.

Of course, the mainstream media made extra effort to report that 4 in 10 Republicans thought Trump “probably did” mention the possibility of investigating Biden implying 60% didn’t. If you read the hyperlink address, it clearly makes out the majority of GOP supporters don’t believe which is disingenuous. 31% said, “don’t know.” Do we assume that all people read the transcript?

In this day and age the number of people that make kneejerk reactions – driven by media headlines (or suspiciously cut videos to remove context) on both sides of the partisan divide – without even reading the body of the article, let alone facts means such data polls tell us little. 

Last week, Rasmussen noted, “But 46% think it’s more likely that Trump will be reelected in 2020 than defeated by the Democratic nominee or impeached, unchanged from late July…28% see a win by the Democrats’ candidate as more likely, down from 33% two months ago. 17% believe Trump is likely to be impeached before serving his full term in office, up from 11% in the last survey but down from a high of 29% when Rasmussen Reports first asked this question in late December 2017.”

In the end, Batman knows best. “Don’t trust the polls.

Titanic shipbuilder manages to stay afloat

It seems that Titanic shipbuilder, Harland & Wolff, has been thrown a £6m lifeline after the Belfast based business looked to sink into receivership. The company has 79 staff, well down on the historic peak of 35,000. The trends are only too self-evident.

The OECD notes “As of March 2018, the global order book of registered ships totalling approximately 78 million CGT, thus continuing to remain at historically very low levels. In year-on-year (y-o-y) terms this represents a decline of around 10% and is almost 66% lower than the peak in September 2008.  The order book continuously declined after 2008 before stabilising in 2013 and staying above 120 million CGT throughout 2014. With deliveries stable and new contracting at record lows, the order book again decreased substantially in 2016, declining by around ¼ from January 2016 to January 2018. In the course of 2018, new ordering picked up again from its lows, but declined in the first quarter of 2018.

It wasn’t so many years ago that Korea’s largest container transporter Hanjin Shipping declared bankruptcy.  The above chart shows the daily shipping rates for the industry which remain tepid for the past decade. The problem with the shipping industry is the fleet. Ships are not built overnight. Surging order books and limited capacity meant that as the pre-GFC global trade boom was taking place, many shipping companies were paying over the odds without cost ceilings on major raw material inputs (like steel). This meant that ships were arriving at customer docks well after the cycle had peaked at prices that were 3x market prices because of the inflated materials.

H&W may live to see another day, but the consolidation in the shipping industry will be ongoing. P.22 of this report shows the slowing $ value of trade in recent months.

WeWorked

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WeWork has delayed the IPO. According to Zerohedge, the initial appraisal value of $47 billion appears to be entering the realm of $10 billion. This has ‘canary in the coalmine‘ written all over it. The kaleidoscope of razzle-dazzle in the free money world looks to have stopped spinning.

The company looks toxic. Most people point fingers at the co-founder Adam Neumann,  who, according to WSJ,  reportedly sold $700 million in a mixed debt and equity transaction. CM may be a contrarian, but even he sees the pre-IPO sale as somewhat suspicious. Selling part of your stock as part of an IPO is one thing. Doing it prior doesn’t pass the pub test.

How can IWG plc (better known as Regus) make profits (albeit sideways) with the same concept? 2018 IWG revenue and profit after tax increased 51% over 2014 levels. Revenue increased 13.5% since 2016, but post-tax profit slumped 24%.

WeWork seems like the Tesla of the office space world. Huge promises but the numbers are struggling to stack up. Maybe WeWPresumably, due to a combination of intensifying shared office competition, start-ups spoilt for choice or simply failing to grow.ork should leap into insurance as a way to generate cash flow like Tesla has started to do?

Mann played the wrong Ball with his hockey stick

Who’d a thunk? It seems Dr Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann lost his long standing legal battle with climate skeptic Dr Tim Ball. Mann had sued Ball for libel but failed to submit the R2 data, codes and document to support his claim by the deadline so the court awarded the defendant court costs as well.

Just one of those things where unless you show me the data everything else is just opinion. If his hockey stick data was so robust, surely it would have sold itself and Ball would have lost the court case.

Why Gerry Harvey’s comments on diversity obsessed companies speak more about our superannuation fund managers

Harvey Norman is currently valued at over $5.1bn, which is c.4x the combined value of Myer and David Jones. Good on Gerry Harvey for getting stuck into the stupidity of diversity quota obsessed boards. He is right. Why are certain funds requesting Harvey Norman hit these soft and irrelevant targets adopted by David Jones & Myer so they can invest under their self imposed ESG guidelines? Surely any company’s performance (assuming they aren’t illegally exploiting child labour) should be all that matters to shareholders? If it works without this gender balance nonsense why fight to change a winning formula?

If anyone is ever fortunate enough to meet Gerry Harvey’s wife, Katie Page (the CEO), it isn’t hard to work out that her gender wasn’t a selection criteria. Fistfuls of competence were. She gets it and not for one fleeting second could anyone ever get the idea that she plays up to the gender card. An utterly pleasant, generous and intelligent individual.

If Gerry Harvey & Katie Page thought Harvey Norman shareholders’ best interests were served by an all female board it would done so based on skill and ability to add value. The gender wouldn’t even be a factor.

Have you noticed why Harvey Norman hasn’t followed the group think pervading all the other companies who pulled their adverts off the Alan Jones Breakfast Show? Because Harvey Norman doesn’t pretend to judge the personal political beliefs of its customers. They only wish to provide the best possible goods that meet market demand, not chase imaginary pixies in the quest to morally preen. However it perfectly describes the decision making processes inside less competent boards when they blindly follow the herd rather than independently validate scenarios based on data, relevance and common sense. We now know over 40 companies didn’t.

The only diversity required is that of thought – not gender, race, sexual preference or religion. However don’t be surprised to see locals run Harvey Norman’s overseas businesses – driven by the fact they understand local conditions better than a helicoptered expat.

Maybe it is high time these superannuation funds actually decide to do some homework on the companies they invest in. To drop this focus on nanny-state driven diversity targets and actually look at the companies themselves as “businesses”.

CM guarantees that the companies that focus on this socially constructed diversity balance nonsense will severely underperform when tough times approach. Because decisive leadership in a crisis can be found with leaders like Katie Page, not with those companies that put everything else but ability as the key selection criteria.

The bigger concern down the line will be that these CSR/ESG and equality obsessed fund managers will have parked so much money in the wrong names that the retirements of millions of Aussies will be severely crimped by this muck. Let there be no mistake – super holders will not thank these woke investors for chasing irrelevant internal constructs over viable businesses when reality dawns that they have much less than they anticipated for retirement. Maybe that is what CM should have said to the ATO when he set up his SMSF.

Bega Council declares climate emergency

Well, well,well. Yet another virtue signaling council with too much time on its hands. It seems 39 residents came to thank the Bega Council for its climate emergency declaration. So given there are 33,253 residents as at the latest census count, 0.12% showed up to make this display. Bravo. Why hasn’t Bega Council given explicit impact figures on the savings expected? None because to do so would render the whole cause as ridiculous as those elected to make the decision.

CM hopes that Bega Council looks immediately to shut down Bega Dairy to fulfill the commitment to cut down on the dangerous methane gas from dairy cows. Afterall every little counts, even in Bega.

By the way, by the UNIPCC’s own data animals make up 13% of the methane which is 722 parts per billion meaning animals alone make up 0.00000939% of the atmosphere.

Jazz hands to Bega.