Thank you Ben Bernanke. The Chairman of the US Fed said he could not (or would not) “parse” the reasons for the market plunge the day before. Despite this confession of ignorance, the calm way he said it, plus one suspects use of the strange and unusual word “parse”, made traders relax and encouraged bargain hunters.

It was not just the Fed Chairman who was unable to parse the event. The IHT reports: “Some customers at brokerages in Asia admitted to being mystified by the sharp movements in share prices. “I am buying in the hope that the share price will rise – I really feel like a gambler sometimes,” said Moon Chung-lien, a 65-year-old retiree who wore a puzzled expression and knitted brow as he busily punched stock codes into a computer at the Hong Kong offices of the Shanghai Commercial Bank Wednesday afternoon.”

As John Garnaut reports for the SMH, Peter Costello also did his best to calm investors, including what the Ruddites will no doubt interpret as a coded message for Ron Walker and pals. “Economic and financial policy [in China] is not as developed as you would see in a Western country, so you will get starts and you will get corrections. But I have no doubt that the growth of the Chinese economy has a long way to go.” So it’s on with the show, gentle readers.

Did you see Julie Bishop and Wayne Swan go head to head on The 7.30 Report? Both performed well, although I thought Julie was the more relaxed and ended with a nice nasty flourish. But there is a question of fact that needs to be resolved.

Labor keeps quoting the OECD to put Australia close to the bottom of the relevant league table in spending on education. The government says spending has risen since 2001(?) in excess of overall economic growth.

One of Henry’s educated pals says it is pretty simple really. The government uses absolute figures – yes, actual spending has gone up – but in relation to the overall economy spending has fallen, especially if one looks at the numbers in relation to GDP, for example. We ask if there is an expert out there who can point us to some neutral report that resolves this debate once and for all.

Both sides are concerned with “standards” and we now have bipartisan agreement that there will be national consistent tests that get reported to parents in reasonably plain English. (The dispute here concerns whose idea this was, but frankly guys, we parents don’t give a rat’s about this – after all a recent Morgan Poll found that an overwhelming majority of Australians support having a national curriculum).

Henry cannot resist linking to his own – now somewhat dated – tour de force on the subject.

Read more at Henry Thornton.