Talk about corporate cringe reporting, especially in The Australian Financial Review and The Australian this morning.

Bring a group of rich businessmen, all mates of Forbes magazine and owner Steve Forbes (both poorer since the GFC and America’s recession hit), mostly from America and some of its satellites, such as Mexico and tax havens such as Bermuda, and plunk them down in Australia and watch the local media slather over their every utterance, with no regard to their track records, especially as seers.

Steve Forbes tells us Australia is a great place to do business and the media laps it up. Some else says Australia is a rotten place and the media laps it up.

Forbes tell us to cut our tax, and hey presto, there it is in The Australian.

“Steve Forbes has called on Australia to cut its top income tax rate to as low as 17 per cent.

“The chairman and chief executive of the eponymous Forbes business publication empire said Australia’s top income-tax rate of 47 per cent was “much too high”.

“I have always advocated that Australia should adopt a flat tax,” he said in an interview.

“Or at least cut your top tax rate, which is way too high.”

“Mr Forbes said it was important people in an economy focused on being productive rather than dealing with a “complex tax code”.

“He also called for a re-introduction of the gold standard in the US and the US Federal Reserve Board to maintain the value of gold at about $US1000 an ounce.

“Mr Forbes blamed Ben Bernanke for devaluing the US dollar with the Federal Reserve chairman’s easy money policy.”

The gold standard, the man is nuts and still living in the 1920s The US dollar was taken off the gold standard by Richard Nixon in 1971. Reintroducing the gold standard in the US (no matter how you try to shuffle it)  would reintroduce it to the world, and force America into the mother of all recessions, as billions of dollars of its gold flowed out of the country to its creditors, such as China and Japan.

The Fed saved the US economy from the damage caused by the same group of people on Wall Street for the most part idolised by Forbes and his magazine. Complex tax code, the Americans have a complex tax code, we merely have one that’s very long. The US hands out all sorts of tax breaks (call it corporate welfare) to business and many hedge fund managers (some of whom couldn’t make it to the conference) are campaigning against new laws that will make them pay more.

The AFR and The Australian are giving the conference extensive coverage. Their views are worth the coverage, but they are not gospel. And yet there’s this feeling on reading the reports, “they like us; the rich folk like us”.

Or, hold a conference in China, get the most ignored man in the Chinese iron and steel industry up to make a speech, which he does, uttering the same of stuff on the Australian mining tax and iron ore pricing, and reporters fall over themselves to report his meanderings.

So the AFR and The Australian referred to the comments made by “China steel industry chief Shan Shanghua. The Australian reported:” China steel industry chief Shan Shanghua has attacked the Gillard government’s proposed mining tax. He also said the new quarterly iron ore pricing system was unreasonable and unfair.”

Shan is the head of the China Iron and Steel Association, which has little power in China and he has made similar comments about prices for more than a year. No one seems to be listening because the Chinese mills continue to buy iron ore from Brazil, and India, as well as Australia.

And the AFR reported this morning: “The federal government is under pressure from its two largest trading partners over its controversial mining tax, as the Chinese steel industry ruled out paying more for iron ore, and one of Japan’s largest companies labelled the impost ‘disturbing’.” And the paper’s Chanticleer columnist said: “Criticism of the mining tax yesterday by powerful Japanese and Chinese interests should be interpreted carefully.”

And Chanticleer also said: “Any comments from conservative Japanese companies should be taken seriously”. Oh, really, why, pray tell? Gone are the days when the head of raw materials at Nippon Steel could come to Australia and insist that Australia take price and volume cuts on our iron ore and coking coal exports to the Japanese steel mills. Did the Japanese executive in question query his Government and The Bank of Japan’s failures to break the deflationary pressures on the Japanese economy? That is a far pressing problem for Japan (and Australian raw material suppliers) than an Australian tax.

And did anyone at the conference notice that Japan’s trade surplus fell, thanks to higher imports and high prices of iron ore, coal and LNG, all that Australia ships to the country? And that the fall in the surplus was the first drop in 15 months? So despite the worries of the Japanese executive, Japanese companies are boosting (and paying more for) imports of raw materials. Did anyone mention the stupidity of the Japanese Government’s intervention to drive down the value of the yen and the watch the Bank of Japan has botched monetary policy (assisted by the various governments) for the past 20 years? Or is it a case of Japan Inc lives.

It’s the Australian media’s kowtow to rich and well-known foreigners who come bearing criticisms of us, but no reflection of their own problems. Would China and Japan listen “carefully” to Australian criticism of their internal tax policies, such as the discriminatory export rebates handed out by the Chinese Government, or the way it manipulates the value of its currency? Japan ignores and has been deaf to Australian complaints about its agricultural subsidies. Japan and China say their tax and subsidies are internal matters and of no interest to outsiders (and so is the way it sets the value of the yuan). The mining tax and other issues they raise are internal issues in Australia.

Shan was speaking at the China Iron and Steel Association conference in the Chinese city of Dalian Here’s the Financial Times report:

“Iron ore demand in China, the world’s largest importer of the commodity, will rise next year as Beijing’s power cuts for the steelmaking sector start to fade, according to industry executives. The upbeat outlook came after small and medium-sized Chinese steel mills suffered recently amid an electricity clampdown aimed at meeting Beijing’s energy efficiency targets. But senior industry executives at the annual meeting organised by the China Iron and Steel Association in Dalian said their mills were no longer being affected by the energy cuts.”

And while The Australian missed the confidence about iron ore demand, Chanticleer in the AFR did at least point out how Shan’s organisation had muffed iron ore pricing.

The market is telling a different story. It’s a case of prices, what crisis? Shan’s comments were ignored by the FT, they’ve heard it all before. The paper instead pointed out that spot iron ore prices traded at $US139.5 a tonne yesterday, unchanged from the previous day and above the low of $US117 a tonne set in July. The high was more than $US180 a tonne in April-May. Shan ignored that fall and is more worried by the quarterly pricing system now in place, because the market, rather than the Chinese and Japanese steel mills, now set the price. And that benefits Australia, Brazil and Indian exporters and the countries.

A bit of balance please, and a bit of scepticism.