What is undoubtedly the most fascinating aspect of the ANZ
full-year result is the demonstration of the complete 180 degree
turn this bank has taken on the notion of costs, says Elizabeth Knight in The SMH. Expenses went up
by around 8% in the year and that whole obsession with cost
to income ratio was thrown out the window. The new game in town is investing in the franchise. It’s no
longer a feather in a banking chief’s cap to get the cost to income
ratio down. It’s now about spending money – mostly on people – to
differentiate the service level from the Westpac, NAB or
Commonwealth Bank next door.

The fate of Macquarie Bank rests on new US Federal Reserve chief Ben
Bernanke being the safe pair of hands he appears to be as the world’s
central banker, says John Durie in The Fin Review. Rates will
rise at some point but not significantly in the next couple of years
bar an external shock, which isn’t on the horizon. This is where
Bernanke’s appointment is so crucial because he’s perceived on Wall
Street to be a good choice to replace Greenspan.

But President George W Bush has passed up the chance to put a
decent central banker in charge of the Federal Reserve Board and
gone for the bloke under his nose, says Alan Kohler in The Age. The only significant danger to the economy is that a US property collapse will
trigger a consumer-led recession in America, kicking out one of the
two props of the world economy (that is, US consumption – the
other being Chinese production). Which is why George W Bush should have appointed Ian Macfarlane to
succeed Greenspan, say Kohler. Macfarlane knows how to engineer property bubble
soft landings. Failing that, Bernanke needs to pick up his IP phone
and call him for a low-cost chat.

Telstra is set to cut more jobs by shifting
large chunks of its operations to third-party service providers as part
of chief executive Sol Trujillo’s company-wide restructure, reports The Australian. The move is designed to create a “new” and “leaner” Telstra as outlined
by Mr Trujillo to shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting
in Sydney yesterday.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed lower overnight, after crude
futures shot up more than 3% and a surprise drop in a monthly
confidence survey fed fears that consumer spending will decline. The
Dow Jones ended down 7.13 points at 10,377, after earlier being more
than 60 points lower at one point – MarketWatch has a full report here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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