The so-called experts surprised again. That brave band of economic forecasters have done it again. The Australian Bureau of Statistics retail sales figures out today have left them looking foolish. The 18 “experts” paid by banks and other financial institutions surveyed by Bloomberg predicted a modest sales gain in March of 0.5 per cent. The actual ABS figure at 2.2 per cent was more than four times higher.

A timely end to drought. It is farmers to the rescue of Australia’s trade performance with, in seasonally adjusted terms, exports of rural goods rising $257m (10%) to $2,844m in March. The balance on goods and services for the month was $2498 million, up by $746m on a revised surplus in February 2009.

It’ll just be temporary. It was a silly thing to say. Calling six years of budgeted deficits “temporary deficits” made a mockery of the English language, but Treasurer Wayne Swan will survive his embarrassment. It’s what happens to the economy that will determine his place in political history, not how he described them in a preview. Already his spinners are back on track as they get their man portrayed as a new kind of Robin Hood who will be taking from the rich to give to the poor. The front page of the Daily Telegraph will have far more impact than his linguistic stupidity.

Heavy security for major European poll. More than 20,000 law enforcement officers will be mobilized daily in Moscow to ensure order during next week’s Eurovision Song Contest. The Moscow Times reports that authorities are stepping up efforts to prevent possible terrorist acts or other violence during the event.

And you thought it was just some kind of SBS television joke! Not so. This is the major European election of the year, with votes coming in from people all over the European continent and Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev is leaving nothing to chance. The ministry will “actively monitor and check” crucial information received both from within the country and abroad, as well as work with both foreign security services and the Federal Security Services to identify individuals plotting crimes “of a terrorist nature” or that could “destabilize the situation during the contest,” Nurgaliyev told a meeting of his subordinates, Interfax reported.

As to the likely outcome of the contest itself, the Crikey Eurovision Song Contest Election Indicator has the following assessment:

Peter Fray

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