Editors like binge drinking. Kevin Rudd has struck a chord with the nation’s newspaper editors with his new anti binge drinking campaign. They covered it with alacrity this morning.

The Courier Mail coupled it with a local variation where a mother-of-three escaped without a jail term despite being caught drink-driving three times in five hours and the Sydney Morning Herald splashed with “Revealed: the 100 most violent pubs and clubs.” Make no mistake: wowserism is very much back on the national agenda as the social engineers are let loose. I fearlessly predict that the net impact of the planned advertising campaign aimed at young people will be to make binge drinking more appealing to the young rather than less.

Ticket clippers get clipped. There’s a rough justice in the way the world’s ticket clippers are getting their comeuppance at the moment on world financial markets but unfortunately, in the end, it’s invariably the rich wot gets the gravy, and it’s the poor wot gets the blame. A few merchant bankers now are paying a high price for their past greed in taking a fat fee here and a few basis points there as their peers clamour to try and protect their own interests. The madness of this world financial system was well illustrated down towards the end of a rather straight report on the troubles which the Carlyle Group’s Carlyle Capital Corporation is having with its lenders over a little matter of some of them liquidating almost a quarter of the Amsterdam-listed fund’s $US21bn of residential mortgage-backed securities. The FT story put it this way:

Carlyle, like many other funds, is locked in a showdown with banks who are reducing their financing lines to funds with big investments in mortgage and corporate securities. But the banks’ attempt to manage their exposure, which makes sense on an individual basis, risks precipitating a systemic crisis.

By cutting back on their lending, the banks are forcing funds to unload securities. At the same time they are increasing the likelihood of a death spiral in the market as funds such as Carlyle’s are selling those debts into a falling market, causing the prices to plunge further, which in turn brings on additional margin calls.

To the extent that banks hold many of those same securities, the banks become victims of their own actions as they mark down their own positions.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, banks are increasing the interest rates they charge ordinary people for housing loans to cover the extra costs involved now that the world’s banks no longer trust each other to tell the truth about whether they can pay back loans or not. And, notes Graeme Miller, head of investment consulting at Watson Wyatt Australia, in a research note titled “A fairer deal on fees”, while superannuation returns plummet, fees and charges continue to rise with the average person now slugged an extra $60 a year. Ain’t it all a bleedin’ shame?

Betting coup fails. It is pleasing to report that the bookies have kept the money after an attempted betting coup on the 2008 Crufts dog show came unstuck. Not that I have any brief for the giant international bookmaking firm of William Hill but some things should be sacred and the competition for best dog in show should be one of them. William Hill took the unprecedented step this week of closing its book on Crufts before the show had even started. The bookie traditionally allows people to place bets on which of the seven categories of dogs will produce the Best in Show winner. But it decided to close the book after a “massive” gamble on a utility dog taking the top prize. Spokesman Rupert Adams said: “We cannot lay any of the other breeds and have such a one-sided book that we have decided to close it. There must be an exceptional dog out there that we have not heard about.” Perhaps the plunge failed because of a misunderstanding on the part of those involved about the difference between a Schnauzer and a Giant Schnauzer. The top dog in show was Jafrak Philippe Olivier, a Giant Schnauzer competing in the working group category. Ordinary Schnauzer’s are classified as utility dogs – the category unsuccessfully backed into two’s on favouritism.

Some what if planning. Hopefully the politicians full of zeal to do something about climate change are listening at the Outlook Conference run by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) this week. While the political attention is on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions in the hope that there will be an international agreement that limits global warming, it was reassuring to hear some boffins more concerned with adapting to the change that might result from the governments of the world doing too little or too late to prevent some dramatic changes. Helal Ahammad, who heads ABARE’s climate change analysis branch, told the Conference that significant potential exists to mitigate climate change impacts through adaptation. “Australian farmers have been adapting to seasonal variation and international competitive pressure. Climate change poses an additional challenge to which farmers will respond to via innovation and increased productivity,” Dr Ahammad said. “Sound knowledge and understanding of the nature and extent of climate change and its impacts at a regional scale is critical for farmers to adapt to climate change effectively. Both industry and government can help by providing research and development in this regard.” The Director of the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship, Dr Andrew Ash, repeated the message about the need for research into how to deal with a warmer world. Dr Ash told the Outlook Conference there is a need to determine where and when incremental adaptation will not be sufficient to cope with climate change.

The Daily Reality Check

The Vatican might be listing new sins but Australians seem happy enough with the existing ones if the Crikey survey of internet news sites is any guide. Murder, rape, pedophilia and prostitution all feature high on the most read lists this morning, Australian politics rated just two stories out of 50. The ABC website gave a guernsey to Joe Hockey venturing outside his portolfio areas of health and aging to predict that Australia is heading towards recession. It was the kind of statement that a man who has his eyes on being leader of the federal Liberal Party makes rather than that of an aspiring Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales. Readers of The Australia gave a ranking to a story about yet another Labor Government committee – this time a gathering of true blue Muslims.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW