The grim economic news continues. The horror run of the Australian tourism industry continues. Figures out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning shows the trend estimate for arrivals last November was 5.1% lower than in November 2007.

In seasonally adjusted terms, during November 2008, arrivals (446,300 movements) decreased by 1.4% compared with October 2008 (452,500 movements). This followed a monthly decrease of 1.4% for September 2008 and a monthly increase of 1.1% for October 2008.

Half a per cent or more. The Crikey Interest Indicator suggests that a further substantial interest rate cut is on the way when the Reserve Bank meets for the first time in 2009. The Indicator, based on prices at the Betfair prediction market, has a cut of 0.5 per cent as a 46% chance, just in front of the probability of a change outside the range of plus or minus half a percent.

An earthquake not a tremor. That well connected former Australian James Wolfensohn gives a rather frightening assessment of the world financial crisis in an interview this morning published on the German magazine Der Spiegel‘s website. After praising the quality of the team of economic advisers recruited by President elect Barack Obama, the former World Bank chief offered this assessment:

Wolfensohn: Everybody that has got anything to contribute intellectually is around and ready to help. But it’s not just an intellectual game. It is a game that is now being played out at a level of uncertainty that we’ve not seen since the 30’s. This is not another adjustment as we had in the 80’s. This is a shift in the earth. This is an earthquake. It is not a tremor.

SPIEGEL: How long is it going to take to get out of this mess?

Wolfensohn: I don’t think anybody knows, frankly.

15 minutes of fame. Mary Harkins of Coopersburg Pennsylvania is about to get her 15 minutes of fame. This devoted dog lover runs the rescue and relocation program of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America and Barack Obama and family have this rather exotic breed on their short list of suitable family pets along with labradoodles but want to get their dog from an animal shelter. Ms Harkins has the task of helping all homeless PWD’s “that are in need of a new home.”

The president-elect promised his daughters during the campaign that whether he won or lost the election, he would grant their wish for a dog. Their choices of dog breeds are limited because they need to pick one that is hypoallergenic because of Malia’s allergies.

Turning nobodies into somebodies. We will see a wonderful example on the television news tonight of how a collection of nobodies can be turned into somebodies if they make the effort to form an organisation. The Golden Globe awards these days get saturation coverage when they are presented in Los Angeles in the weeks before the short list is made for Oscar nominations but the winners are really little more than the selections of a group of battling freelance journos who hit upon a wonderful way of getting free movie tickets.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has three members who put Australia as the country which qualifies them as being foreign — Philip Berk, Jenny Cooney Carrillo and Lawrie Masterson. They are hardly big names in the world of journalism although Mr Berk gets a few mentions for being president of the HFPA and Ms Cooney Carillo apparently writes for TV Week and my Google search once had Mr Masterson being interviewed on an ABC radio program.

Wine makers for Obama. I am not sure of the significance of this piece of information gleaned from a CSIRO press release at the weekend previewing a conference on “Improving international supply chains for wine”: 99 per cent of US wine was made in states that helped elect Barack Obama. Your opinions please.

Peter Fray

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