Investment

Gladys Berijiklian wipes the floor with Michael Daley

Listening to the NSW Election debate, incumbent Premier Gladys Berijiklian wiped the floor with Opposition Leader Michael Daley. Daley’s opening remarks were well prepared but it was all down hill from there when it was impromptu.

Daley was short on figures on pretty much every issue. Berijiklian knew them off by heart. Schools, climate change spending, public assets, electricity costs, mental health, hospitals, tolls, unemployment, education, water etc etc. Daley mentioned numerous times in his answers that he needed to double check his figures. On TAFE spending he guessed $3 billion. In reality it is $64 million.

When asked for a show of hands over the contentious Allianz Stadium rebuild, the Penrith audience backed the Premier by around 2:1.

The Premier made the rebuild costings clear and pointed out they’ve been in the public domain for over 12 months. Daley didn’t even have clear costings on how much it would cost to renovate. At one point Berijiklian was telling him how much bringing up to meet building codes would be. One would think he’d be all over the numbers on an issue he has expressed much passion over. She said that the new stadium would cost the same as renovating the current one.

Whether 100 undecided voters influence the election is a moot point but Berijiklian was the clear winner. The end result. Of 100 undecided, 50 would vote for the Premier and only 25 for Michael Daley.

Boeing 737 MAX-8 – question the pilots not the plane

There is something to be said about the group think behind countries stepping up to ground the 737 MAX-8. Of course safety is of maximum importance. It always is. However had the FAA held the slightest inkling that switching off the Boeing 737 AOA would still cause crashes it would be grounded immediately. The FAA is comfortable that airlines that follow the updated airworthiness directive (AD) will not experience danger. So confident in that decision the AD called for a continuation.

If anything blanket groundings are more a slap in the face of pilots in questioning their skill to fly these planes without all of the gizmos. As a passenger you should question the airlines that ground as a reflection on the level of pilot training and confidence in them during a crisis situation.

It’s a bit like having your parking camera and sensors go on the blink. Is reversing into the car space with your left arm on the passenger seat looking over your shoulder impossible without these aids? No. Do you stop driving your car because you’re afraid you can’t park it? The problem is all of these aids are to a point dumbing down the ability to drive using feel. Perhaps we should demand The NHTSA grounds Tesla for the spate of autopilot accidents ending in death of drivers.

Would Boeing risk such massive corporate negligence by letting the planes still fly if they had the slightest doubt switching off the AOA would cause more crashes? This is not a Ford Pinto moment. It’s a serious flaw to be sure but the plane has got a clean bill of health without autopilot AOA. That’s why the FAA hasn’t grounded it.

Boeing assures customers it has a software upgrade to be released in coming weeks. There are 4,800 orders outstanding. The new Leap X engines are so much more efficient than the CFM-56 variant they replace. The secret sauce in the engines is made by NGS Advanced Fibers (50% owned by Nippon Carbon) in Japan. Airlines want them. Period. Efficiency helps them stay in business.

The Boeing 737 fleet has done around 1 billion flight hours combined. This is a 50 year old plane which has been modernized. Think of it like a Porsche 911. The basic shape is the same. The plane is airworthy. The software is faulty. As passengers we should pray that the pilots have the skills when the systems fail, not fail when the systems let them down.

Trump is right to cut NSF funding – here’s why

So the media unsurprisingly hurled abuse at Trump for his plans to cut National Science Foundation (NSF) funding by $1bn. Typical. Yet maybe it’s worth reminding ourselves how the NSF has misappropriated taxpayer funds with such reckless negligence. No doubt if Obama (who raised its budget $1.5bn which in office) had lopped $1bn off the NSF budget on discovery of the below the media would be in raptures.

The NSF is a US government agency responsible for allocating 24% of science funding. It was raked over the coals by the US Senate for gross mismanagement, fraud and waste. The “National Science Foundation: Under the Microscopepaper from 2011 documented some of the misappropriation of funds as follows,

An $80,000 study on why the same teams always dominate March Madness”, a “$315,000 study suggesting playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships”, a study costing “$1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names”, a study costing “$50,000 to produce and publicize amateur songs about science, including a rap called “Money 4 Drugz,” and a misleading song titled “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas”;” a study costing”$2 million to figure out that people who often post pictures on the internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends”; and “$581,000 on whether online dating site users are racist”.Ineffective management examples, cited in the report, included “ineffective contracting”, “$1.7 billion in unspent funds sitting in expired, undisbursed grant accounts”, “at least $3 million in excessive travel funds”, “a lack of accountability or program metrics to evaluate expenditures” and “inappropriate staff behavior including porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping at NSF-operated facilities in Antarctica”.

Sorry, which part of lopping $1bn would taxpayers be upset by?

Tesla – Musk baits the regulator again?

Anton Wahlman on Seeking Alpha has reported that Tesla held a secret telephone conference call to a limited audience which apparently contradicted statements made earlier in the public domain. If true, from a pure compliance and governance perspective that would violate fair disclosure rules. It is surprising that given Elon Musk’s run ins with the SEC that shareholders would hope he’d look to avoid further investigation rather than taunt the regulator.

According to the call transcript, Tesla provided new profit/loss guidance to the select few on the call. Even more bizarre is that Deutsche Bank compliance apparently let its Tesla analyst publish a report on March 1 based on the contents of the call, including margin guidance on the $35,000 Model 3 which was not divulged to others.

CM has always held that Tesla is an amateur car maker. Luring owners to deposit a non refundable $2,500 for a $35,000 Model 3 smacks of a silent fund raising to keep the ship afloat.

The company recently admitted it would close much of its dealer network and move to mobile servicing. Cute in principal but unlikely to be sustainable. Mainstream makers know that dealer/service networks are vital to keeping customers connected. If large recalls need to be conducted, mobile units aren’t going to cut it.

None of the above really surprises. Owning Tesla is sort of like joining a cult. The preachings from the fearless leader are designed to keep the disciples fiercely loyal. However if the government gets enough evidence to gather the SWAT team it will swarm the compound. This company is not worth anything like $50bn. Grab your popcorn.

Facebook face plant?

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Facebook is the dark blue line. Its popularity has been waning. Some people are complaining (and others cheering) that Tommy Robinson has been banned from Facebook & Instagram (he had already been banned from Twitter in March 2018) after he exposed the BBC in his ‘Panodrama‘ documentary with his own undercover video  claiming allegations of threats, blackmail and intimidation to smear him. BBC News was clearly happy to report on the outcome today. Regardless of one’s view on the legitimacy of the life ban on Robinson, FB is a corporation that has the power to exercise its own guidelines, no matter how farcical some might judge them. There are countless examples of censor bias across multiple social media platforms. The managements admit as much.

The flip side for Facebook to ban him only makes him more desirable to his followers and increase their willingness to leave the platform.

If conservatives are becoming frustrated at the bias shown by Facebook, Twitter or any other social media forum why not set up a rival? If conservatives feel their voices are being suffocated by political correctness and the actions of arbitrary thought police why haven’t they set up a platform that will not silence what they covet?

Even if they have a very good case to argue against being silenced they have two options; stop using these social media players who they feel obstruct or build a fresh site which would surely see conservatives flock to it.

Fighting Facebook or Twitter to play fair has been proved worthless countless times (e.g. black conservative Candace Owens being suspended for replacing the word “whites” from Sarah Jeong’s tweets with other races). So it is a war that won’t be won.

The publishing of Google’s internal post-election debrief video shouldn’t have surprised anyone in the slightest either. All the outward appeals to the group’s impartiality were smashed by this leak. In a sense Google was the victim of the half-life nature of the very digital media feeds it seeks to control. Even worse it was all the senior management talking about what really goes on. Sunlight is truly the best disinfectant.

There is an opportunity to plug the gaping hole in social media – one that is willing to support all free speech and not shut out those that ideologically disagree with the apparatchiks in the censorship department. The question is why conservatives haven’t stopped complaining and moved to finance a rival? Or is there an inner fear that the authorities will become the judge and jury on what is considered free speech and shut the platform, not the individual…

The wrecking ball reckoning

CM has said for quite some time that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) could be the best weapon the Democrats have but the lack of willingness to bring her inside the tent is causing the opposite to occur. She is nothing more than an internal wrecking ball.

As a social media darling for millennials she has reach. She’s doubled following in recent months. However her Green New Deal (GND) has just been costed by the Congressional Budget Office to the order of $93 trillion with a T. That’s more than global GDP. Nancy Pelosi slammed it as a Green Dream. The Speaker of the House was right but the problem is the less she is brought to heel the more she fractures the party message. Unity is the one thing the Democrats must show. They can’t be the party that hates Trump and show such disorder. Voters want a stable platform with sensible policies.

The other day she openly stated “I’m the boss” when referring to her GND proposals, even though it was torn down from her site. She even did a video in her kitchen about how climate change is out of control (eg bushfires – sadly 90% are accidentally lit or caused by arson) and postulated the point of being kids into this new world.

There is little time left to save her. Left to her own devices she will drag the party further and further left and alienate the middle ground. The Democrats don’t need in fighting to overthrow Trump. It’s bad enough that Kamala Harris jumped on the Jussie Smollett smear without thinking (even if it was her press officer) and Elizabeth Warren put “Native American” on her application form all those decades ago. It is such good advertising fodder into an election of how quick to judgement they are.

AOC could be mobilized really effectively. It would have been better to place AOC on the Democrats climate change panel to force her to tow the party line. Instead her devout disciples followed her lesson of several months ago by barging into Dianne Feinstein’s office with kids as young as 7 to protest inaction on climate.

These are seeds of disunity. The septa/octogenarians running the Democrats are looking at her as just an unruly step grandchild who will eventually grow up. Sadly at the rate she is going she will create growing waves of discontent supported by her 3.2 million followers (and growing) which will only hurt the chances for a 2020 Democrat win.

All the while this circus goes on, Hillary Clinton holds back until she smells the rotting carcass of the too numerous to count primary candidates and throws her Epi pen laced candidacy in the ring to challenge Trump.

Juncker focuses on the wrong climate

There is an irony to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker promising to spend €1 in €4 of the EU budget on climate mitigation. Worse he used 16yo Swedish climate school strike activist Greta Thunberg as the pawn to justify it. €1 trillion will be spent annually through 2027. It is for their future after all!

Last week CM debated a former client who tried to justify teachers using WMO data in their studies of teenage students on climate. WMO is a part of the U.N. which has been embroiled in so much data manipulation, scandal, lack of governance, unethical conduct and conflicts of interest as to beggar belief. So kids are being indoctrinated if the scholastic standard is the WMO.

Has Juncker considered how his climate plan will alleviate stubborn poverty and anemic economic growth?

EU poverty or risk of exclusion in 2017 stood at 22.4%. So 1 in 4 EU-28 member state citizens are struggling. In Greece it remains high at 35%. In 2007 poverty in the EU-28 was 16%. Even poster child Germany has gone from 16% to 19% in the same period. Macron’s yellow vests are protesting at 17.1% poverty vs 13% in 2007. In 2007 there were 78mn at risk of social exclusion. In 2017 there were 114mn.

The U.N. has called for “no poverty” in 15 years. The EU subscribes to this nonsense. While poverty may have drifted from the post GFC peak of 24.8% in the eurozone, 36mn extra people are unable to afford to heat their homes, afford a colour TV or eat meat, fish or chicken once every two days. These are the EU metrics on poverty. So how does spending €1 trillion per annum to mitigate climate change sit with a growing number of constituents dying to see blazing sunshine bask upon their economic climate?

Retail electricity prices across Europe are up 23% in the last decade. In Germany +39%. Spain +47%, Portugal +50%. Sweden +76%. France +40%. This is what happens when a growing amount of renewables are thrust on the grid. The countries with far lower renewables targets, like Hungary, have seen electricity prices fall. Who’d have thunk?

EU GDP growth has been slowing for the last 5 quarters and expected to slow to 1.1% in the coming quarter.

The EU claimed a 6.6% unemployment rate in Dec 2018. An update is expected on March 1. Is that number realistic if the poverty rate remains so high or is it a reflection of low paying rubbish job opportunities? Greek unemployment is north of 18% and Spain at 15%. Part time employment has grown to 20% from 15% over the last decade. In the Netherlands almost 50% of work is part time.

December 2018 EU industrial production fell 4.2%YoY. Ireland fell back 19.8% and Spain -6.7%. Hardly positive readings.

So instead of promising teenagers a green future, Juncker would find it far more sensible to focus on alleviating the chronic youth unemployment in Europe which remains around 19%. At least Thunberg is likely to skip the unemployment queue by landing a cushy EU job when she graduates unlike her fellow Swedish schoolmates who will face 18% unemployment.

What’s the point of listening to kids pleas to save the planet when the unelected overpaid bureaucracy in Brussels won’t even be able to provide them with a sustainable career to enjoy it? No doubt the kids will realize this folly when they grow up in the real world.