Correction: Macquarie Group rang to point out an error in yesterday’s story about the Claytons guarantee on their Cash XL product. Turns out it’s actually not a cash management trust, but a registered managed investment scheme. Same same but different as far as the implied government guarantee goes – what it invests in is guaranteed, but Macquarie Cash XL actually isn’t.

Global credit crisis crunching:

Paul Hampton-Smith writes: (Crikey, Thursday, item 1, “World markets rack up another round of losses“) I wish the media, Crikey included, would stop ranking falls in stock indexes by points in their search for variety of expression. Sure, the 5.7% drop of the DOW last night is no squib, but saying that a 514 point drop is the seventh on record makes it sound needlessly menacing. It is certainly not in the same league as the previous occupant of that slot, the October 87 crash, in which the DOW fell 508 points or 22.6%.

Marshall Roberts writes: I came in from a hard afternoon’s work and sat down to read Glenn Dyer’s “World markets rack up another round of losses”. Not being able to make sense of the sentences, I kept thinking I must have had a touch of sunstroke. It was your top-billing story. You could’ve edited that one, at least. I’m paying for it.

On the US presidential election and Guy Rundle:

Voting US citizen Judy Bamberger writes: VP-wannabe Palin asserts that she’s “putting [election results] in God’s hands, that the right thing for America will be done at the end of the day on November 4.” Assuming the polls predicting an Obama/Biden victory are accurate; assuming Palin is true to her word and her faith, on 4 November, I expect to hear Palin welcome the Obama presidency publicly and warmly. I expect her to affirm full, unflinching support for Obama/Biden, endorsing their policies, and advocating to all her supporters to unite behind Obama/Biden because the election results manifest “God’s will” and “the right thing for America.”

Or Palin will show how pretentious, shaky, and false is her faith by denying “God’s hand” in an Obama/Biden victory, by doubting those results are “the right thing for America.” Or perhaps God will demonstrate His sense of humour and remind her – and all Americans – about one cornerstone embedded in American-style democracy – the separation of church and state.

John Taylor writes: As an avid nightly reader of Guy Rundle’s US election reports, I have a question for you: How the Hell have you kept him to yourselves for the past 12 months of this campaign? The daily contributions have been overwhelmingly brilliant. You laugh, you cry, you know what the yanks in small towns and bars are thinking. It’s all just superb. Thurdays performance (Crikey, item 5, “Rundle08: stale cigars and a last roll of the dice“) was among the best. From the total decrepitude of Atlantic City, to the coverage of both sides of the campaign, I loved every line. “Google it Bolt”. How perfect. Is he seriously writing a book of this year? Please keep us informed as to when we can buy it. Next major question, of course, is what do you do with this talent next year?

David Watts writes: To add to the pleasure of Guy Rundle’s writing and the descriptions of the cities that he visits I get on to Google Earth and zoom down to take a look for myself. I have just visited Atlantic City. So that’s where it is. And all those vulgar casinos. Fascinating!

Petrol puzzle:

Martyn Riddle writes: I am hoping that the esteemed Crikey readership of economists can help me out with some calculations as it would appear as though my calculator is broken. When the price per barrel of oil was trading a couple of months ago at US$140, the Aussie dollar was trading at approx US$0.95. This gave an AU$ price per barrel of approx $147. At that time, an average price at the pump was around $1.50, giving a ratio of 98.25 between the barrel price and the pump price. Today, oil is trading around US$67 per barrel and the Aussie dollar is around $0.67, giving an AU$ price per barrel of $100. Using the same ratio derived above of 98.25, that should mean the pump price is around $1.02. Instead it is still around $1.40. I appreciate that these are very rough figures but there is a huge discrepancy between the two prices. Have I missed a calculation or is there some gouging going on?

Pascoe vs Keen:

Mark Byrne writes: Michael Pascoe’s mocking tone in his attack on Steve Keen (Crikey, Thursday, item 26 “Economists lining up to disagree with Steve Keen“) is unbecoming. But the argument he employs is more telling. Keen used his analysis of the Debt to GDP ratio to predict the current crash. Keen was also kind enough to go public (last year) in time for me to move my super (and all my families) and doge the worst effects of the drop. Pascoe’s basis for his attack is that bunch of economists didn’t like Keen’s analysis. The elephant in the room is, to what degree do these critics of Keen have an interest in “talking up” the economy, and to what degree are they captured by the group think that left so many blind to the crisis? I refer Pascoe to Andrew Crooks report concluding that a financial crisis is no time to trust finance journalists. The question for our time is: Since our economy is dependent on our environment, how long can conventional economics resist the inclusion of the metrics, feedbacks, and incentives of ecological economics? And what are the effects of delaying this transition?

Kevin McCready writes: Sacha Vidler expected support from John Quiggin in the attack you published against Steve Keen. In Quiggin’s blog he concludes: “Keen got the basic points right, and those who are criticising him now should concede this.”

Bullying in QLD government:

John Craig writes: Your comments (Crikey, Thursday, item 2 “Life a misery for the staff of Ronan Lee MP“, item 15 “Wrecked lives and compensation: the MP staffer scandal“, item 17 “Take off the Rose-coloured glasses Australian Story!”) reflect problems that have existed for many years, and been covered up because there seems to be bipartisan acceptance of such practices. Moreover 90% of the problem relates to bullying of those who work for Queensland politicians in other capacities. An attempt to get at the root of the broader problem is presented in a 2002 history of the growth of public service bullying which deals with its relationship with the breakdown of the Westminster tradition and with the character of the factions that have dominated the Queensland ALP. The fact that bullying has been a matter of continued public concern is also illustrated by 2005 documents ‘C’mon Pete its time for Action’ ; More Silencing and Scapegoating of Public Service Employees?; and Plague of Bullies.

Ross Copeland writes: I have full sympathy for MPs’ staff who have been abused by their bosses and agree it is a problem which must be addressed. However I have seen first hand the other side of the coin where Ministerial staffers, even relatively junior staff, think that the authority of their boss ie the Minister gives them cover to abuse public servants, sometimes much more senior than the staffer. Those of a certain age will remember Ainsley Gotto, but all she did as far as I know was control access to John Gorton. I am talking about screaming down the phone demanding papers, statistics, budget figures etc immediately and reducing public servants to tears – often the information was already in the Minister’s office but it was easier to demand another copy than look for it or it was just physically impossible to provide the information instantly. Often this would be compounded by a complaint to the public servant’s superior, leading to a carpeting of the already emotionally stressed public servant. I must stress not all staffers behaved this way, but one or two doing it and getting away with it can set a standard for the whole office. Yes, politicians need training in how to manage staff, but they also need to ensure that their staff deal with others, whether public servants, other staff in their own office or members of the public service.

Bill Watson writes: Poor behavior of MPs and a Minister is not isolated to Queensland. Politicians (and their staff) bullying, harassing and intimidating staff and more particularly public servants warrants exposure and discussion. That’s what made Monday’s Australian Story so galling. What Crikey has reported is the tip of the iceberg. There are many current and former public servants (including me) who have suffered at the hands of politicians and their staff. In normal circumstances what seems to be acceptable behavior within political circles would be absolutely unacceptable and would lead to the bully being sacked. A system that allows Ministers to sack senior public servants without the public servant having the right to challenge the termination’s fairness gives Ministerial bullies even more power. They are never called to account for their behavior. This is wrong, but it suits governments for this unfair system to continue and it will.

Matthew Brennan writes: The ABC radio news here in Brisbane chose to report the upcoming Merri Rose Australian Story as a news item on Monday morning. Using news broadcasts to plug upcoming ABC television programs seems to me to be a bit naughty but be that as it may, listening to Merri’s quavering voice alluding to her dirty little secret, whilst in bed at 6.01am, and then again over toast at 7.01am, was quite enough to ensure that I was out of the house by 8.01 am. And for some reason listening to a few CD’s, accompanied by a few glasses of red, seemed to be the go when I got home on Monday night. Far be it for me to speculate about public opinion, and no disrespect is intended to Chris Johnson or any other people who had the misfortune to have worked with Rose, but if Crikey polled Brisbanites about whether Merri’s little secret was in the “Too Much Information” category and whether the woman should just b-gger off back to Bribie, I think you would be surprised at the number of responses in the affirmative!

The Great Bank Guarantee Kerfuffle:

John Goldbaum writes: The GFC (Crikey, Thursday, item 4, “No one blameless in the Great Bank Guarantee Kerfuffle“) should be fought like a war. Loose lips sink ships. We need to bring back D-notices. It is now time for both sides of politics to initiate some confidence building measures to limit the detrimental effects of the global economic crisis. Both Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull should form a “war cabinet” and try to calm the nerves of retirees and home borrowers. For retirees worried about the value of their superannuation portfolio, just remember that you dine out on dividends, not share price. For borrowers unable to make your mortgage repayments, just ask the bank to re-capitalise your interest. Now that is what I call true bipartisanship.

Graeme Harrison writes: First the ABC’s ‘7:30 Report’ and now Crikey seem to suggest that Malcolm Turnbull is causing damage to the economy by questioning the terms of the bank deposit guarantee. But let’s remember that when first elected, Rudd almost INSISTED that he wanted the bigger issues dealt with on a bi-partisan basis. Then when the economic meltdown was clearly going to need government assurance measures, Turnbull offered to meet with Rudd and agree on an economic support package on a bi-partisan basis. It was Rudd who claimed that the necessary measures were already in hand and that there was no need for Turnbull to be involved. Personally I feel that Rudd feared Turnbull’s better knowledge in that field. The media seems not to pick up the more important issue that things were NOT already sorted, and that a bi-partisan approach WOULD have been far better for confidence-building… So WHY did Rudd change from bi-partisan to partisan? That is the more relevant question than how like-minded the RBA and Treasury are.

Kerry and Sue Lewis write: Where is the money to come from if we’re to guarantee the security of every bank account, no matter what it’s name or who holds it? The “security” Turnbull says is lacking, causing “a run” on “peripheral” institutions and is getting stuck into the government over – does he really want them all covered? How much is that going to cost? Would he do it? Even he probably hasn’t got that much money! Every country around the world has been touched by this economic crisis. It’s probably not much of an exaggeration to say that every economist in every country would have varying ideas from each another on what is happening and what will. Events are unfolding at rates “unheard” of before. Those country’s lucky enough to have really progressive party’s, willing to pull together for the good of the country are putting aside their differences in the name of co-operation to try to get out of this mess.

Here we have an Opposition and it’s leader, willing to offer “bipartisanship” one week, then turn around and pick the eyes out of a situation to throw at the government. To grasp items, no matter the context, then magnify them, to proffer them as “evidence”, to draw attention to what they see as faults in what the government is doing in all this, and they’re willing to bundle individual Public Servants in the deal (does anyone really think Don Randall is on his “Pat Malone” in those opinions of Glen Stevens he aired outside parliament today, then had to embarrassingly retract). And a leader who goes on “The 7:30 Report” “playing Portia” (in that court scene) telling us what a fan of Henry’s he is, then drawing attention to his “faults” as he sees them. Who is willing to grandstand anywhere anytime if he thinks it will enrich his political persona – “rich as Croesus”(compared to most of us – insulated from these “troubles”), but still selling himself as a man of the people (who are picking up the tab) – not unlike Palin and her wardrobe, really – full of platitudes, empty of genuine empathy and driving the Daimler home.

In these days, there’s probably been a veritable snow storm of correspondence between the relevant bodies (as circumstances change by the day if not the hour), as Henry touched on yesterday, Turnbull has picked a snow flake to magnify – where’s the rest of it? In Parliament, in these uncertain times, what are we being treated to? What for all the world seems like the histrionics of an attention deprived individual, grasping for relevance and acceptance – at least one.

Britt Lapthorne:

Alan Kennedy writes: We are all sorry about what happened to Britt Lapthorne but it was hardly the fault of the Federal Police that the investigation was bungled. Watching that idiot Senator Field bang on at Keelty the other night made me almost feel sorry for the Commish. But the real story is that the Commissh was before a senate committee, and if they had locked Field in his office, maybe someone could have asked Keelty about the Haneef case and the extraordinary behaviour of Keelty in his men and women as they fitted up Haneef and then spent millions of our money trying to justify their behaviour. Now that is something Keelty is responsible for.

Tasmanian forests:

Rhys Tate writes: (Crikey, thursday, item 13 “Violence and extinction in Tasmania’s forests“). Memo to the Tasmanian & Australian governments: Instead of condemning honest working men, shouldn’t you look on the latest forestry scandal as an opportunity to re-employ these soon-to-be-pink-slipped loggers in a more carbon-friendly capacity? Their catchy catchphrases couldn’t help but hammer the message home to our polluting auto commuters. I, for one, would love to see a head-kicking guest appearance by Bazza and his crew on St Kilda Road next Walk To Work Day, telling us all to “Get Out Of The Car, You F**king C**ts”. The slogan’s the perfect length for the side of a ethanol-powered bus, too.

South Australia:

Scott Sims writes: Crikey has gone down hill. There has not been a single scrap of reporting from South Australia. With all the goings on with Leadership speculation and Workcover changes at the recent convention, yet NOTHING from Crikey. Life your game!

Birmingham airport:

Scott Rochfort writes: (Crikey, Thursday, item 8, “Tips and Rumours“) Pity you failed to credit the SMH’s CBD column for pointing this out on Monday.

Radio National:

Walt Hawtin writes: Andrew Roff (Crikey, Thursday, item 28, “Comments corrections, clarifications, and c*ckups“) claims to be a “… hip 20-something with an IT background” who says he couldn’t be bothered to chase down Radio National’s podcasts. Andrew can’t be too hip or IT savvy, because he clearly doesn’t know how to use a podcast and its related software effectively. I simply select my podcasts of choice through their MP3 software, in my case it is Background Briefing and The Ark, and each time I plug my well-known brand of fruity, doctor-friendly MP3 player into my notebook to charge and synchronise, the software automatically deletes the already-heard episodes and replaces it with new episodes. There are about six variations on that theme to select from, including keeping only unheard podcasts, or downloading only the last episode, or the last three episodes, etc etc. It is a terrific service, and it is not just RN that offers it. So there is no need to go chasing down radio programmes on the internet because once it is all set-up because everything happens automatically. By the way, if RN sh-tcan The Ark, I personally will be a spiritually poorer person for it, and who knows what damage I may do to society.

Don’t do it, ABC!

Crikey’s bad grammar:

Marg Henley writes: I commented on Ronan Lee’s lack of grammar nouse a couple of weeks ago. Not published of course, because grammar in Crikey is going down the same track, as per comments today. Teaching grammar in schools is all very well, but who is going to teach it? The teachers don’t know it and many cannot even spell correctly. All part of the general dumbing down of our society, following the USA slavishly into
know nothings!

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