The truth would do, Kevin: Kevin Rudd has been planning to go to New York to address the United Nations for many weeks now. His visit most certainly is not some spur of the moment decision designed so he can take advantage of an opportunity to be briefed by leaders of other nations on how they are dealing with the world’s financial crisis. That is purely coincidental to Mr Rudd’s desire to strut the world stage to advance the chance of Australia at some time in the future getting one of those temporary seats at the UN Security Council’s meetings. The visit was decided on well before the disruption to financial markets reached crisis point and would be taking place whether there was a financial crisis or not. Telling the plain truth, however, is not something that comes naturally to Team Rudd. At the very first sign of a little bit of criticism from people who suggest that 16 overseas trips in 10 months is overdoing things a bit, the Prime Ministerial spinners have not been able to resist advancing what they think is a better reason for this jaunt than the real one. Hence Mr Rudd staring out of our television screens last night to tell us how vital it will be for him to be briefed personally from the high and mighty of the world whose inaction created the mess the world now finds itself in. Come on Kevvy – the truth would have done. Being on the Security Council probably is important.

No confidence vote in Foreign Affairs: Having such a peripatetic Prime Minister as Kevin Rudd is a real vote of no confidence in the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and does not say much about the regard the Labor Government has for its Treasury officials working in international economic organisations either. The impression the PM gives is that he, and he alone, is competent to sort out what is really happening in the world because our supposed diplomatic and financial experts are not expert at all.

A little market manipulation: My colleague Possum at his pollytics Crikey blog has started keeping track of market movements on the US Presidential election as reflected at the Intrade prediction exchange but there is one word of caution I would offer about this particular measure of the probability of the November result. Intrade is showing a markedly different assessment of the respective Democrat and Republican chances to the two other main markets – Betfair and the Iowa Electronic Markets. This morning Intrade has the Democrats a 53% chance of winning while Betfair says 62% and the IEM 61%. That is a substantial difference and I can only put it down to a little bit of manipulation by people trying to suggest that John McCain is doing better than he actually is. It is the Intrade figure that is posted each day on the influential Real Clear Politics site which is much visited by political journalists. 

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Peter Fray
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