That’s ABC, not ABC. ABC Learning Centres is well recognized as the dominant child-care provider in Australia, it also previously had an interest in struggling toy seller, Funtastic. However, ABC isn’t known for its expertise in television production — that is generally the purview of an entirely different ABC. Alas, we were somewhat surprised to see that ABC Learning is the producer of a new show to air on its namesake network called FARMKids. According to a FARMKids press release, the program “is a new animated children’s series for 6-11 year olds featuring a quirky collection of pampered petting-zoo animals who don’t have a clue how to survive in the country when they are unexpectedly relocated to Dude Ranch.” Sounds fascinating.

While FARMKids isn’t likely to become the next Astro Boy, we wonder whether ABC Learning shouldn’t be sticking to its core competencies (or, if you look at their most recent earnings forecast, core incompetencies) than getting into the risky world of television production. ABC shareholders (those who are left) may be somewhat concerned that instead of investing in a child-care company which received billions of subsidies from the Government, they are investing in a child care company which dabbles in speculative production ventures. — Adam Schwab

Some good news at the bowser, finally. AAP is this morning reporting an expected drop in petrol prices of around 13 cents over the next couple of weeks.

[CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian] said the Singapore unleaded petrol price – the benchmark for Australian prices – had fallen by $US15 per barrel over the past seven days. This means bowser prices in Australia are likely to fall in the next two weeks, he said.

“The national average price is likely to fall by around 10 to 13 cents to $1.50 a litre, in the next fortnight,” he said.

The article adds that motorists “have been forking out a record average of $228.30 a month on petrol — an increase of $58 since September last year.” While the savings will be welcome, the RBA is expected to announce another rise in inflation tomorrow, caused in part by the continued high prices of oil. According to a median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg, “A surge in prices, stoked by a 74 percent jump in the cost of crude oil in the past 12 months, gives central bank Governor Glenn Stevens little scope to cut borrowing costs even as the nation’s 17-year economic expansion slows.” Savour the small mercies. — Thomas Hunter

No break fee and no discount from NAB. National Australia Bank is the first of the majors to pander to the government in launching a home loan with no early exit, discharge or settlement fees. The Clear Banking Home Loan is a no-frills mortgage, answering the government’s call to allow bank customers to more easily move from a product they are not happy with, without incurring penalty fees.

The bank, though, did not address the important issue of existing customers locked into mortgage products with high break fees. In launching a product that appears to be taking a proactive step in addressing the government’s request, NAB has not yet, however, made any move to reduce break fees on its other home loans. (And nor has any other lender.) The new loan, which NAB is marketing as the Clear Banking Home Loan, will attract an application fee of $600, with no monthly fees and available for loans from $80,000, available through the National network and brokers.

The current standard variable of 9.61% will apply. It appears that no rate discount, which is still standard on many loans, will apply. Exit fees of around $900 are charged on the existing National standard variable loan if exited before four years, with an additional $350 charge for settlement and discharge fees, varying depending on the package. — The Sheet

Where’s the public outrage on the US credit crisis? Possibly, there aren’t enough thrifty voters in the 50 states to constitute a respectable quorum. But what about the rest of us, the uncounted improvident? Have we, too, not suffered at the hands of what used to be called The Interests? Have the stewards of other people’s money not made a hash of high finance? Did they not enrich themselves in boom times, only to pass the cup to us, the taxpayers, in the bust? Where is the people’s wrath?

The American people are famously slow to anger, but they are outdoing themselves in long suffering today. In the wake of the “greatest failure of ratings and risk management ever,” to quote the considered judgment of the mortgage-research department of UBS, Wall Street wears a political bullseye. Yet the politicians take no pot shots. – WSJ

Peter Fray

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