“The housing downturn is biting,” writes Robert Harley in The Fin(subscriber only). “The current crunch is slow, very slow by comparison with previous downturns. But the impact is being felt by all those who fed off the boom, from real estate agents, to builders, developers, valuers, material suppliers, architects and financiers”.

The Age’sStephen Bartholomeusz speculates on whether former ACTU heavyweight Gary Weaven’s instant and public rejection of Acciona’s $709 million bid for Pacific Hydro is part of a ploy to extract a special benefit for the Industry Funds Management group, which has a 32% stake in the renewable energy group. And Christopher Webb writes in The Age that a profit bombshell for electronics products outfit Strathfield, which estimates earnings ranging from nothing to $1 million this year, has slashed the company’s share price.

In the Herald Sun, a defiant Terry McCrann says that the popular perception that Sam Chisholm was the culprit in the infamous Telstra boardroom coup “was utter rubbish”. But the veteran business commentator concedes that “it’s reasonable to posit that had Chisholm not been a director of Telstra, the oustings would not have happened”.

And in today’s BRW, commentator Gerry van Wyngen predicts that oil prices may have peaked – despite what most people are saying. “In the coming months, it is likely that oil prices will top out sooner than expected. They might even have peaked already”, he writes. “This will result in speculators unloading their oil inventories, causing prices to fall sharply, perhaps going as low as US$40 a barrel within the next year, perhaps much sooner.”

The New York Times(registration required) reports that Philip J Purcell, who secured his place as chief executive of Morgan Stanley by ousting a rival in a bitter power struggle, is now facing a revolt of his own after a public brawl over the direction of Morgan Stanley. Two senior executives have reasigned and eight former Morgan Stanley executives have now spoken out to urge the board that Purcell be replaced immediately.

And Slatehas a scoop on the greatest job in American business – well-paid, very little responsibility, and no-one even cares if you show up in the office.

On Wall Street, The Washington Post reports the markets’ biggest gains of the year yesterday due to a fall in oil prices. CNBC asks whether stocks will follow up today’s big rally?

Peter Fray

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