Interest rates and the credit crunch:

Geoff Croker writes: Re. “Kohler: Soft landing or crash?” (Wednesday, item 3). Nothings changed. Australia’s $700B foreign debt will get noticed by the rest of the world September 2009. The crunch will be in full flight by Sept 2010. This is John Howard’s legacy to Australia. A legacy he started as treasurer many decades ago. Digging holes and shipping ore was never going to turn around our trade imbalance unless we discovered a huge field of oil and an enormous ore body of gold. Gas and coal require infrastructure that takes 20 years to build. The China boom and U.S. recession were predictable. It’s too late to fight inflation by cutting government spending and raising rates. The crunch is almost upon us and adjusting fiscal policy can’t save us. The $31B of tax cuts we were promised before the election needs to be suspended. This money needs to be invested in things that reduce our trade imbalance and dramatically increase our trade with China and India. These countries have big populations and will need fuel and food. If we fix our water problem we can grow them.

Don Waller writes: One matter that continually intrigues me, and which is never satisfactorily explained, is that whenever official interest rates go up, the major banks pass on this increase almost immediately, but when official interest rates have been reduced, there has always been a delay of several weeks or more before this reduction was passed onto borrowers. As I recall it, the banks passed off this delay due to their own funding arrangements being a mixture between fixed and variable bases. It would be very interesting to track the historical official interest rates ups and downs over the last 10-12 years and then pinpoint the time taken by the banks to pass on increases in official interest rate changes to their borrowers, compared to the delay in passing on official interest rate decreases to borrowers. Is it worth following up this anomaly in the banks contradictory practices?

The Liberal Party leadership:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Who died and left Nick Minchin in charge?” (Yesterday, item 2). Poor Nick Minchin. The Liberals lost office because they had a leader whom the people had stopped following. They should have chosen a new leader but they chose a follower instead. There is a leader among them. His name is Turnbull. His mind is sharp. His tongue is silver. His judgement is good. The Liberals should follow him.

Howard’s farewell bash:

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 10). Re. Howard’s modest farewell party! You’d have to admit that in the context of the event’s purpose and attendance, the outlay was paltry. It somewhat reflects this final farewell of long-serving government members and colleagues at The Lodge was a bit of a dud bash! Wonder why? The food, drinks and waitering costs don’t conjure images of robust conviviality as mates gathered for one last time to share the highs and lows of what was a bloody good innings. You’d imagine this sort of celebration would drag into the wee small hours with rumours and anecdotes about how the team hopped a cab to kick on at the Dickson pub? But from all reports or lack of them, nothing of the sort happened at Howard’s valedictory. In fact, rather than a heart-felt celebration with tributes all round, the stats show it was a short, thrifty if not dour affair — the former PM pursuing economic rationalism to the end? Not the sort of send-off you’d expect from a government fully appreciative of long term unselfish public service. In no way it appears, was this the high-spirited occasion it should have been, with glasses raised frequently and bar staff rushed off their feet. Yet if ever there was good reason for shared expression of gratitude and the telling of tall tales and true of a legendary past, this was it. Evidence shows it was a cheap eats, quick swill affair, where a bunch of bruised egos paid more on cab fares to gather and lament. Gee guys, you told us it was just a game.

The ABC needs Aussie Sci-Fi:

Luke Miller writes: Re. “ABC launch goes for bloke” (yesterday, item 15). Every year around this time the ABC launches its new shows, usually a bunch of ponderous claptrap whose parochialism is matched only by its paucity. Only three drama serials this year, including Dirt Game, which without knowing anything about it I can guarantee will have an “unhappy city person” moving to a remote “wacky country town”, and this is for what we pay $900,000,000? If the ABC was truly daring and genuinely committed to experimental television, it would for once make a real adult science-fiction program. Yes, there, I said it – a real Australian science-fiction show with space-ships, aliens and laser guns. As a country we seem afraid of dreaming about the future and loathe committing a vision to paper (or film). It is no coincidence that the USA, the UK and Japan, three of the most innovative countries of the last century, have large creative wells of speculative fiction to draw upon for their industry, and Australia, with Mad Max and a smattering of (high quality) kids shows, can’t even keep a car factory open in Adelaide. The blinkered thinking at the ABC is all the more galling at the moment because it is trying to make its digital channels successful. The BBC uses low-budget science-fiction to drive early-adopting audiences to its infant digital channels. For example, Torchwood sets rating records on BBC3 and The Sarah Jane Adventures, a kid-friendly spin-off from Doctor Who, is the highest rating program on CBBC (Children’s BBC). And finally, science-fiction sells very well overseas, is easy to franchise and looks great in any intra-station promo! Pack away your crusty-old drama schedule ABC, and dare to stuff up!

Commonwealth bank:

Roy Travis writes: Re. “Which bank spent $50 million on crappy ads then raised rates?” (Yesterday, item 4). My wife opened an account with “Which Bank” recently. I got the task of registering the account for Netbank, the Commonwealth internet banking. After three attempts I have not yet succeeded. In the meantime I have gathered a Keycard, a phone banking pin and another pin, the name and function for which escapes me. However, they are “determined to be different”.

Rundle in the US:

Michael Rae writes: Re. “US08: After the tornado, the oesophagus of victory” (yesterday, item 3). I do hope Crikey — or someone — publishes Guy Rundle’s US08 pieces as a book. Guy’s dispatches are a joy to read. Different in both tone and style but as high quality as the late, lamented HST’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Bravo!

Not Yuendumu:

Katrina Bolton writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). The Yuendumu graffiti pics in yesterday’s “Tips and rumours” are not from Yuendumu. The turtle and fish artwork is somewhat a giveaway – there aren’t too many of either in the desert. There is a Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation in Wanniassa, ACT…

Fixing a hole:

Shirley Colless writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Re. “…turning off NSW Rivers and Foreshore Act“. If Energy Australia’s contractors laying the Desal plant cable across Botany Bay are anything like the ones digging up streets and footpaths all over Sydney, the sensitive seagrasses might as well accept doom and destruction right now. I don’t know about all the other council areas affected but residents in my patch in North Sydney are sick and tired of Energy Australia’s contractors not only digging up their streets and footpaths, but coming back and opening up the same hole four times… and counting.

It’s a grand old..:

Michael Cox writes: Regarding the talk about the meaning of GOP (yesterday, comments). I’m sure you’ll have plenty of people writing in to explain the same thing but…: “The term “Grand Old Party” is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party, and the initialism “G.O.P.” is a commonly used designation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first known reference to the Republican Party as the “grand old party” came in 1876. The first use of the abbreviation G.O.P. is dated 1884.” I thought everyone used Wikipedia…

Mitsubishi:

Mike Smith writes: Re. Randall Berger (yesterday, comments). Why are they closing Mitsubishi? Because even propped up with subsidies, it can’t make a competitive car. Nationalising the plant is a horrific thought – we’ve just got *out* of owning all of the things governments should not be in the business of owning, let’s not start again. Have you ever driven a 380? The engine is not the problem, it’s like driving a … hmmm, sofa? Why is biodiesel going to help? You still get global warming from burning diesel. And to waste food on the production of biofuels is just not good sense.

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Peter Fray

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