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A ScoMotion train wreck

Good morning! Currently self-isolating in The Lodge following his secretive family history pilgrimage in the UK (in the 'national interest', of course), ScoMo got the gang together three weeks early for an emergency National Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

The outcome: nothing. We're not kidding. Following the meeting, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly provided advice on AstraZeneca – "we are not mixing and matching at this point" – and Commodore Eric Young offered up an update on how many doses had been administered nationally, with the government "looking forward to ramping up availability of Pfizer through August into September and into October".

Hardly worthy of an emergency meeting. ScoMo must be bored. 😴

Markets

Daily % change

AUD/USD

75.5

-0.1%

10Y Bond

1.54

+2.0%

ASX200

7,235

-1.8%

Brent (bbl)

74.9

+2.3%

Gold (oz)

1,783

+1.1%

Iron ore (t)

196.0

-5.1%

Bitcoin

32,660

-9.2%

Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract.

US markets rebounded strongly last night, with the S&P500 rising 1.4% on the back of the so-called reopening trade (energy, materials, financials). The Dow Jones had its best day since March, rising 1.76%.

Locally, most regional markets closed lower yesterday following the taper talk in the US at the end of last week, with Japan's Nikkei index at one stage down over 4% before pairing its losses to finish at -3.29%. The ASX200 shed 1.81%, with all of the big banks experiencing significant falls, led by CBA at -5.43%.

China hammers crypto: Bitcoin fell around 10% after the city of Ya'an pledged to purge itself of bitcoin and ether mining operations within a year. Adding to the misery was the People's Bank of China, which "ordered domestic banks and Ant Group Co. payment platform Alipay not to provide services linked to trading of virtual currencies".

Retail locked down: Preliminary data showed that Australia's retail trade barely budged in May (+0.1%) with decent gains in Queensland and WA (both +1.5%) mostly offset by the 1.5% decline in locked-down Victoria.

Asset price inflation: UK real estate firm Rightmove, which advertises 95% of homes for sale in Britain, said that data collected between 9 May and 12 June showed a 0.8% increase in asking prices compared with the month before, the biggest rise for this time of year since 2015. That monthly growth rate implies annualised price increases of just over 10%.


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Analysis

A ScoMotion train wreck

Some ill-considered decisions have left ScoMo with a lot to think about.
Some ill-considered decisions have left ScoMo with a lot to think about. AFR/David Rowe

ScoMo, clearly tone-deaf to the frustrations of millions of Australians who have not been able to see their families for the past 18 months, planned a secret side trip months in advance to explore his family roots while in the UK for the G7 meeting (a group of which Australia is not a member).

Playing by different rules: ScoMo is the latest in a growing line of officials being able to travel freely on dubious 'government business'.

Last week it was Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who "flew to Canberra for a meeting at a time when Melbourne's 25km travel ban remained in place on his advice... to honour medical researchers".

Last year it was former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who made two separate overseas trips to the UK and Rome, the latter to attend a mass delivered by George Pell.

Why this matters: Australians are being asked to suffer away from friends, family and loved ones, while some politicians and bureaucrats are living by a different set of rules. ScoMo is effectively making the same mistake he made in late 2019, when he took a family holiday to Hawaii as deadly bushfires ravaged the east coast. However, this time he has to call a federal election within the next year.

Every incumbent state Premier that has faced an election – regardless of political party – has convincingly retained power by being hard on borders and keeping COVID-19 out. The Commonwealth's job was to procure and distribute vaccines, tasks at which it has performed poorly (Australia currently ranks 77th in the world).

If the situation doesn't improve and various government representatives continue to enrage the populous by flaunting their special privilege, then the government could be facing a ScoMotion train wreck at the ballot box.


The Wrap Up

  • A poll of 1,500 Victorians found 36% of Melbourne residents would prefer to move out of the city for the country, if their work circumstances allowed.
  • Barnaby Joyce is the new leader of Nationals and deputy Prime Minister after defeating Michael McCormack in spill.
  • The nose gear of a parked British Airways Boeing 787 collapsed at London's Heathrow Airport after an engineer had "failed to lock out the landing gear properly".
  • In its annual economic policy guideline finalised on Friday, Japan's government "plans to encourage firms to let their employees choose to work four days a week instead of five".
  • The Tokyo Olympic village is... weird, with cardboard beds, "reduced seating for diners, plexiglass shields between gym equipment, and a kit of hand sanitisers and soap to be handed to village residents".
  • Speaking of the Olympics, up to 10,000 local fans will be allowed to attend but cheering will be banned. Fuuuunn...
  • The US will not donate its spare 60 million AstraZeneca doses, as the FDA is still reviewing whether doses produced at a Baltimore plant are safe.
  • Apple iPhones will have their Wi-Fi functionality disabled if they join a WiFi network with the name "%p%s%s%s%s%n", requiring them to reset their network settings to restore connectivity.
  • Canada and the US will keep their land borders closed until at least 21 July.

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