Squiz Today / 30 January 2024

Squiz Today – 30 January 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 10.15 minutes

23 / 29
16 / 24
25 / 29
15 / 28
18 / 36
10 / 25
26 / 31
17 / 29

Squiz Sayings

“It’s a bit of tradition in Australian sport, isn’t it?” 

Said PM Anthony Albanese of the Australian Open crowd’s ceremonial booing when he was introduced during the presentation after the men’s singles final on Sunday night. And he’s right – you’d be more worried if they cheered…

Evergrande’s empire comes tumbling down

The Squiz  

China’s largest and most debt-ridden property developer, Evergrande, has been told to liquidate after years of financial struggle. The company has liabilities of around $493 billion and defaulted on its debt 2 years ago – and after it was given some breathing space, it has since failed to offer up a suitable restructuring plan. Yesterday, that prompted a Hong Kong court to tell Evergrande’s directors that “enough is enough”, ordering them to begin selling off parts of the company to recoup some losses for its investors.

Back it up a bit… 

Here’s a good explainer, but to summarise… Chinese property developers accumulated high levels of debt pre-2020 as they raced to build accommodation for people and businesses across the country. Then the pandemic hit, and despite the government stepping in to stem the bleeding, there were huge losses. That brings us to Evergrande… It was one of the biggest developers, and after it proposed a restructure of its debt last month, the company’s creditors (aka those who lent it capital) said they weren’t happy with their plans. This brings us to yesterday when the court ruled in favour of creditor Top Shine Global, which wants Evergrande to be wrapped up. Evergrande could choose to appeal the decision, but whatever happens, the decision will reverberate across China’s financial markets and shake international investor confidence. 

Umm, why do I need to know about this? 

Well, you might not need to know – we’re not the boss of you… But Evergrande’s fortunes are central to the story of why China’s economy has been struggling – and that’s important to Australian exporters and our economy… China’s property sector is worth about 30% of the country’s economy, and last year, the Reserve Bank warned Aussies that the “sharp deterioration” in the sector could lead to “reduced Chinese imports of Australian goods and services”. Andrew Collier leads a market analytics firm in Hong Kong – he said the decision to liquidate Evergrande was “a sign that China is willing to go to extreme ends” to stamp out its property problems. And strategist Redmond Wong agrees, saying “the restructuring and winding up of developers are necessary for cleaning up the excesses in the Chinese property sector”. One thing’s for sure – it’s a nasty/expensive band-aid for China to rip off…

World News

Squiz the Rest

Snowtown accomplice soon to be released

Crime junkies from way back might remember the 1999 story of the Snowtown murders in South Australia when 8 bodies were found in barrels in an old bank vault. There were 3 men convicted over 11 murders in total, plus a fourth man who was convicted as an accomplice. That fourth man was Mark Haydon, and his 25-year sentence is set to run out in May. Haydon wasn’t convicted of murder, but the state’s Supreme Court noted that he covered up the murders, including his wife’s. Speaking about Haydon’s impending release, one local barrister, James Marcus, said that community rehabilitation is a much more effective use of resources – although South Oz’s Victims of Crime Commissioner Sarah Quick said that Haydon’s release would be “very difficult” for the families of the victims… The 2 ringleaders of the Snowtown murders were jailed for life, never to be released.

Australian News Crime

A childcare report card

Don’t worry – our little people aren’t being pushed into NAPLAN-style testing… This is about Labor’s new childcare subsidies that took effect in July 2023 – and now, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has handed down an early report on the scheme’s effectiveness. The verdict? Immediate childcare costs have fallen, but there’s plenty of work to be done… The idea is that families earning less than $530,000/year get a childcare subsidy. According to the regulator, while that cash injection has meant lower out-of-pocket costs after its introduction, childcare fees “have grown faster than inflation and wages” since July. Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly responded to the report by saying, “the market is not working for every child”, and “some form of intervention is going to be needed.”


The return of an unwelcomed/damp guest

As Queenslanders continue to sweat and get wet, you might be wondering what the heck happened to the drier conditions promised by El Niño – but it could be about to change… Meteorologists say the latest modelling suggests it is increasingly likely that La Niña weather patterns are set to return this winter. That would make it the fourth time in 5 years – something that’s only happened twice since 1900. Usually, not much stock is placed in January predictions, but due to an expected rapid cooling of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific over the coming months and an oceanic trend known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, it is increasingly likely that the soggy Spanish sister will return. There is some hope though, as drier-than-usual conditions are expected in February along with average rainfall over autumn, so plenty of time to invest in that new umbrella…


X doesn’t mark the spot

Social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter….) has blocked users from searching for ‘Taylor Swift’ after taking a “temporary action” to prioritise safety. It comes after artificial intelligence-generated explicit images of the star were widely circulated across multiple platforms last week. The fake photos were shared millions of times until legions of Swifties flagged the accounts responsible and flooded the socials with authentic images and videos, encouraging everyone to “protect Taylor Swift”. Manipulating pics of celebrities is nothing new, but one 2023 study found the rise of AI has contributed to a whopping 550% increase in phony photos since 2019. The White House labelled the spread of the shonky Tay-Tay snaps as “alarming” – many US politicians want new laws to criminalise the creation of deepfake images, particularly ahead of this year’s presidential election.


But Swift can shake it off the Super Bowl…

… because Taylor’s best boy buddy Travis Kelce helped the Kansas City Chiefs secure their spot at the Super Bowl, where they will face the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas on 11 February. She might have a show in Tokyo the day before as part of her blockbuster Eras Tour, but it’s expected that it won’t stop Swift from supporting Kelce from the sidelines… Thanks to the magic of the international date line, she is expected to jet back just in time for the big game. Kelce, who’s considered by people who know a lot more about American football than we do to be one of the top players in the league, played a big part in their win yesterday. He and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year (against his hairy brother Jason…), but they go into this year’s final as the underdogs.

Entertainment Sport

Apropos of Nothing

Japanese space officials have re-established contact with the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) following its week-long outage. SLIM’s solar panels did their thing to repower the spacecraft, and it’s back at work. First up: snapping pics of a rock nicknamed the “toy poodle”

King Charles and the Princess of Wales are home after their respective hospital stays… The King waved to onlookers as he walked out of the London Clinic after surgery for an enlarged prostate, while Kensington Palace says Kate is “making good progress” after her abdominal surgery.

Producers of Squiz fave The White Lotus have confirmed the next series will be set in Thailand – but the exact location is a tightly held secret. Mega-fan sleuths have deduced the island of Koh Samui looks most likely because a swish hotel has been suspiciously booked out for several months.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

7.05pm (AEDT) – Women’s T20 International Series Cricket, Game 3 – Australia v South Africa – Hobart/broadcast live on Seven

NSW, Victoria and Northern Territory schools are back for Term 1

ABS Data Release – Retail Trade, December 2023

Birthdays for Christian Bale (1974) and Olivia Colman (1974)

Anniversary of:

  • the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (1948)
  • the birth of the Ashes legend after the defeated English team is presented with the ashes of a wooden bail (1883)
  • The Beatles performing their last live gig on a London rooftop (1969)
  • the WHO declaring COVID-19 as a public health emergency (but not yet a pandemic…) (2020)
Squiz the Day

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