On July 1, the day before the federal election that was supposed to bring certainty, jobs and growth, the ASX 200 closed at 5246. On Friday, November 4 the index ended at 5182. That’s a fall of 1.2%, with much of it coming in the past couple of weeks. Yes, investors are fretting about Donald Trump and the profitability of some of our local companies, such as the banks with investors worried about the impact of rising debt and house prices in Sydney and Melbourne. But there’s no sign of any leadership or authority from the Turnbull government, who seem to be staggering from one own goal to another.

The slide in the market is in the face of the return of the commodity boom, which so far had a positive impact on the economy and, as we will see next month’s mid-year update, the federal budget. But like on so many issues, the Turnbull government has been derailed by a series of issues, most self-inflicted — such as the question of Senator Bob Day’s eligibility to sit in the Senate, the crudeness of its latest visa decision for refugees on Manus and Nauru, the pandering to the politics of One Nation, and its mishandled move on industrial relations via the ABCC legislation. But Turnbull does have some leeway compared to where the market was on September 15, 2015, when he removed Tony Abbott as PM. The ASX 200 closed at 5018 that day, so at Friday’s close it was still up 3.2%. A small gain, but not one replicated in the public opinion polls for his government, or his personal standing.

Peter Fray

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