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Arguing semantics

Good morning! Another day, another finger pointing exercise regarding the train wreck that is Australia's vaccine rollout, with states accusing the federal government of a lack of transparency, the federal government blaming a foreign commission... and round and round we go.

Ah well, it could be worse. We could be bungling the vaccine rollout AND have COVID-19 in the community, as many other governments seem to be achieving.

Market Wrap

Running the economy hot

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

The US S&P500 set yet another record high yesterday (+0.15%), with the minutes from the most recent Fed policy meeting confirming it's willing to run the economy hot for some time – decreasing the odds of some kind of policy normalisation in the short- to medium-term.

Combine that with fiscal stimulus as far as the eye can see and an accelerating vaccine rollout and you get boom town, baby.

Corona Wrap

Everyone's fault but our own

Australia's false choice.
Europe's false choice. BrekkyWrap/Spectrum Magazine

ScoMo fired back at the European Commission yesterday, accusing it of "arguing semantics" by claiming it had only blocked 250,000 AstraZeneca doses destined for Australia, not the 3.1 million claimed by ScoMo. According to an Australian government spokesperson, after the first blockage the Commission "requested we withdraw other export permit applications".

In other words: Australia's AstraZeneca orders were effectively blocked but not technically blocked by the Commission. Australia never really had a choice. Naughty, but still no excuse for Australia to be dragging its feet on alternative vaccine approvals/orders or delaying additional vaccination sites.

Finding alternative vaccines is especially important after the UK regulator yesterday recommended that people under 30 should be offered something other than AstraZeneca due to the evidence linking it to rare blood clots. Australia has all its eggs in the AstraZeneca basket and it's not looking all that sturdy.


  • Australia is exploring plans to open a travel bubble with Singapore "within months", followed by Fiji, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and possibly even China. We're a bit sceptical – given the poor vaccine rollout, would the government really be willing to risk a bubble-caused outbreak? Would New Zealand's government, given we now effectively share a border?
  • Less than 24 hours after ScoMo and the Department of Health boss Brendan Murphy said mass vaccination hubs weren't an option, NSW announced a mass vaccination hub located in Homebush capable of administering 30,000 doses a week. Great news but how about you try talking to each other first?

Econ Wrap

Pensioners are hoarding cash

Pensioners are keeping a bit of cash under the mattress.
John Graham/GrumbleSmiles

In March, there were seven $20 notes, thirty-seven $50 notes and seventeen $100 notes per person in circulation. That's up from around six $100 notes per person twenty years ago – an increase of 183%.

Does it matter?: The growth in currency hoarding is unusual because it's unique to Australia – New Zealand has only five $100 notes per person in circulation, largely unchanged from twenty years ago.

It's tax related: Australian National University's Peter Martin notes that there is "an especially Australian desire to avoid tax and things such as the age pension assets test". Unlike Australia, New Zealand "doesn't have a pension assets test", so people of pension age have no reason to store cash to avoid it being counted as an asset.

Incentives matter: Assuming a constant inflation rate of 2% per annum (it's currently just 0.9%), an individual could hoard up to $1,238,519 in cash under their mattress and still profit, so long as they also collected the aged pension.

Random Wrap

  • Two cyclones off the coast of WA are on a path to interact with each other, causing a rare phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara Effect to occur (where they rotate around each other).
  • Encrypted messenger Signal has integrated support for the cryptocurrency MobileCoin, "a form of digital cash designed to work efficiently on mobile devices while protecting users' privacy and even their anonymity". The payment feature will initially be available only to users in the UK.
  • In March, the US ISM manufacturing index rose to its highest level since December 1983. Factories are reportedly "desperate for workers".
  • There are growing calls in the US for governments to permanently ditch some suspended regulations covering takeout alcohol, telehealth and other services. We'd love to see something similar in the nanny state capital of the world, Australia. Unrestricted Sunday trading, anyone?