Squiz Today / 19 January 2024

Squiz Today – 19 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 9.30 minutes

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Squiz Sayings

“I’m delusional enough to think I could have won the tournament.”

Said former world #1 Naomi Osaka, who was frustrated by her round one Australian Open loss. It was her third match in 15 months, and 6 months since the birth of her first baby last year. Geez us women can be hard on ourselves… 

China’s economic future in doubt

The Squiz

China has announced that it hit its economic growth target for 2023 with its GDP (aka Gross Domestic Product – the value of everything a nation produces) in October-December growing 5.2%. That figure was slightly above Chinese economists’ predictions, and Premier Li Qiang (President Xi Jinping’s 2IC) says it shows the country remains a global economic superpower. But analysts aren’t so sure… They say the country’s post-COVID recovery is shaky as its overall growth rate slows, and forecasts show it’s not likely to get back on track this year.

Go on then, tell us why…

First, the country is in the grip of a massive property crisis. There’s a good explainer here, but long story short, China’s property market is struggling thanks to high levels of developer debt accumulated before the pandemic. The government intervened to stem the losses, but the sector has racked up huge losses. That’s led to less government spending to help the economy bounce back from the country’s strict and lengthy COVID shutdown. Less international spending is also causing trouble, and the country recorded its first quarterly foreign investment decline last year since records began in 1998. On top of that, analysts are spooked by China’s declining birth rate… New data shows its population dropped for the second consecutive year to 1.4 billion people – that will mean fewer workers for future economic growth.

So what does it mean for us?

That’s a reasonable question given China remains Australia’s largest trade partner. A slowing Chinese economy means less demand for Aussie exports. Iron ore is a big one – reports say Chinese orders are holding up, but could stall if China’s economy continues to slump. In 2024, Aussie policymakers and financial analysts will be keeping a close eye on China because if its economy slows our economic growth will likely slow too. Speaking of things the experts are looking at… The Bureau of Stats released new employment data yesterday showing fewer Aussies were looking for work in December, which had our unemployment rate staying steady at 3.9% despite 65,000 jobs lost from the economy. As for what that means for us in 2024, analysts are divided. 

Wanna know more? Who wouldn’t want to spend more time on China’s economic downturn… We’ve got just the Shortcut for you – have a read or get it in your ears here.

Economy World News

Squiz the Rest

Fears of an expanding war

Tensions fueled by the Israel/Hamas conflict have been spreading in the Middle East with Iran and Pakistan launching attacks on each other’s territory. Iran claims the strike in the border region targeted Iranian Sunni militants who were planning attacks against the Iranian state, but Pakistan says 2 children were killed and the strike was a “blatant violation” of its airspace. It quickly moved to expel Iran’s ambassador from Islamabad and withdrew its own rep from Tehran. And overnight, Pakistan launched strikes on what it said were separatist militant hideouts inside Iran, killing 9 people. Iran says it does not want to get involved in a broader conflict despite hitting targets in Iraq and Syria in the past week. It’s also backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been attacking commercial ships in the Red Sea.

World News

Leaning out…

Sheryl Sandberg is stepping away entirely from the company she helped turn into a global phenomenon. She joined Facebook when it was a start-up and served for 14 years as chief operating officer/Mark Zuckerberg’s right-hand woman + 12 years on the board. Her 2013 book Lean In was devoured by career women worldwide, urging them to give the corporate ladder climb a crack while juggling parenthood/adult responsibilities. But her rise has been far from a fairytale… While Facebook grew and grew to become Meta – it also faced massive criticism, including for fuelling misinformation during the 2016 US election and the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.  She posted – on Facebook, of course – about “a mind filled with memories” while Zuckerberg thanked her for “extraordinary contributions” to the company. Where she goes next is anyone’s guess…

Business & Finance Technology

Old friend Mr Tree

Here’s one we didn’t see coming… The hard man of tennis/world #1 Novak Djokovic has revealed he’s got a “special” tree in Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens that he’s been visiting for the last 15 years. Novak reckons the gardens help him deal with the pressure of the grand slam event. So why this particular tree? “I just liked it. I liked its roots and the trunks, and branches and everything”. And maybe he really needed a hug with his tree mate after getting hot under the collar at a spectator this week, although he’s now got Nick Kyrigos offering to act as his bodyguard. As for what’s happening on the court, Aussies Max Purcell Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ajla Tomljanovic have been bundled out, leaving Alex de Minaur and Storm Hunter to fight it out in their third-round matches today. And a shout-out to the cricket – the Aussies will probably wipe the floor with the West Indies in Adelaide today…


Land of the Rising Spacecraft

Japan is crossing its collective fingers that it’s about to make history with the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spaceship that’s due to touchdown on the moon tomorrow night. Launched last September, SLIM’s mission is to show off its precision landing capabilities that could change the game for future lunar exploration. The descent towards the moon is set to kick off around 10.30pm tomorrow Aussie Eastern Daylight Savings Time, with touchdown expected about 20 minutes later. If all goes to plan Japan will join Russia, the US, China and India who’ve all managed a soft (aka not a crash) landing on the moon. It’s hard to believe man actually walked on it more than 50 years ago given how tough it’s been to get back. The US company that was hoping to perform the same feat as Japan suffered a major fuel leak after takeoff last week, and other recent attempts by Israel and Japan also failed.


Sweaty madness

It’s official…  Humidity drives us all cray cray – and it’s not just because of the seriously bad hair days it creates. After all the rain parts of Australia have copped, there are places that aren’t used to it dripping in super muggy conditions. Scientists have been studying this in the Top End for years, given its annual muggy “build-up” between September and November blamed for everything from rising crime to insomnia. Retired Darwin psychologist Mary Morris reckons “going troppo is a real thing” after studying a group of labourers who didn’t have access to air conditioning. Morris reckons the lethargy vibes we get with serious humidity are similar to the feelings Northern Hemisphere folks get in the depths of winter. Speaking of… Fifteen spectators have been taken to hospital during an NFL game in Kansas City after the wind chill hit -27C. We’ll take the sweat, thank you very much…  


Apropos of Nothing

There’s a bloke/craftsman who’s gone viral on social media – he goes by the name Tanner Leatherstein, and he tears apart luxury bags to assess whether the expensive item is anything close to worth it. Note: he’s sceptical of the pricey halo many brands have, and gee it’s compelling content… 

January is the month to grab a spot on the sofa/sun lounge and immerse yourself in a long read. As for the reading material, this British Vogue interview with Julia Roberts by Notting Hill/Love Actually writer Richard Curtis is charming. They’re both legends. 

Soz we can’t remember what sent us down this rabbit hole, but someone notable somewhere was reported talking about their love of a Turkish yoghurt cake – that it’s simple, lemony and cheesecake-like. We found a recipe, made it, and can confirm. There are only 5 ingredients plus cream and berries to serve for high levels of yum.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

Squiz the Day

The Tamworth Country Music Festival begins (on until 28 January) 

The birthdays of country music artist Dolly Parton (1946), rocker Janis Joplin (1943) and rapper Mac Miller (1992)

Anniversary of:

  • ABC’s Triple J broadcasting for the first time (1975)
  • the death of former Aussie cricketer David Hookes (2004). His untimely death led to national discussions on organ donation

Penguin Awareness Day

World Religion Day 

A birthday for astronaut Buzz Aldrin (1930), director David Lynch (1946), Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley (1972) and muso Kevin Parker (1986)

Anniversary of:

  • China ceding Hong Kong to the British during the 1st Opium War (1841)
  • Donald Trump being inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States (2017)
  • the car attack in Melbourne’s CBD, which killed 6 people and injured 27 (2017)
  • the death of singer/actor Meat Loaf (2022)
  • Jacinda Ardern resigning as New Zealand’s PM after serving just shy of 6 years (2023)

Midsumma Festival celebrating LGBTQIA+ kicks off (on until 11 February) – Melbourne 

World Snow Day

A birthday for the iconic French fashion designer Christian Dior (1905) 

Anniversary of:

  • the execution of the last king of France, King Louis XVI, during the French Revolution (1793), as well as the deaths of Vladimir Lenin (1924) and George Orwell (1950)
  • the start of the Battle of Khe Sanh (1968)
Squiz the Day

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