Squiz Today / 07 March 2024

Squiz Today – 7 March 2024

Squiz Today Podcast

Today’s listen time: 6 minutes

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Squiz Sayings


Is the term scientists have used to describe a German man who took it upon himself to get 217 Covid vaccinations in just over 2 years. Despite the excessive dosage, he doesn’t appear to have suffered any negative effects. Perhaps he took his Scout motto “Be prepared” a little too seriously…

The economy drags its feet

The Squiz

Australia’s economy grew by 0.2% in the October-December quarter of last year, bringing our annual growth rate for 2023 to 1.5% – our weakest result since 2000 when you exclude the crazy see-saw of the pandemic. And if you take into account Australia’s population growth for a third straight quarter, the data also shows that economic activity per person fell for the third consecutive quarter, meaning we’re well and truly in a per capita recession. Westpac economist Andrew Hanlan summed it up – he said the “tepid” growth shows the economy “limps along”. But others say it’s a sign the Reserve Bank’s interest rate rises are doing their job – reducing economic activity to bring inflation under control.

Ooh tell me more…

The Bureau of Stats Katherine Keenan says consumer spending on things like restaurants and clothing/footwear dropped to 0.1% in the December quarter as Aussies dig deep to cover essentials like power, housing, food and health. At the same time, government spending (which rose by 0.6%) and private business investment helped that growth number remain positive, but only just… Treasurer Jim Chalmers is fine with that, saying “slow growth is still significant growth given the challenging global conditions combined with the impact of higher interest rates”, but he reckons the worst is behind us. The Coalition’s Treasury spokesman Angus Taylor isn’t as optimistic and says the drop in per capita spending underlines the fact “Australia is in an entrenched GDP per capita recession” underscored by ongoing low consumer confidence.

So what does it mean?

There’s good/bad news… We flipped a coin and, starting with the bad – Stephen Smith from Deloitte Access Economics says the new data shows “Australia is not in recession, but many Australians are”. And the good news – he reckons we’re likely to see the Reserve Bank start to cut interest rates by 1% next financial year. As for what happens next, Smith believes “monetary and fiscal policy need to pivot away from containing inflation to stimulating economic growth”, and there are expectations the Albanese Government will address this (aka throw some cash around) in the May Budget.

Australian News Economy

Squiz the Rest

Biden and Trump secure their leads

America’s Super Tuesday results have rolled in, and President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have – as predicted – dominated at the polls. We won’t go through every result (you can do that here), but there are a few notable points… Republicans in Vermont gave their backing to Nikki Haley, but that’s where the good news ended for Trump’s last remaining Republican rival, and overnight she announced that’s the end of her campaign. She said it was up to Trump to now “earn the votes” of her supporters. Trump’s feeling good about it, calling Super Tuesday an “amazing day” and declaring “I will win this election”. Biden also suffered a defeat in one primary, with venture capitalist Jason Palmer winning in American Samoa. Vice President Kamala Harris called Biden’s almost clean sweep “an energising moment for our campaign”.

World News

Chaos continues in Haiti

Haiti’s PM Ariel Henry has been forced to travel to Puerto Rico after being unable to return home as gang violence takes hold of the Caribbean nation. Soldiers were deployed to the airport in the capital Port-au-Prince after gangs – who have united under the leadership of former police officer Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Chérizier – attempted to seize control using heavy gunfire. It follows weeks of unrest that have seen armed gangs call on Henry to resign, and on Monday, a state of emergency was declared after an attack on a prison freed thousands of inmates. Haiti’s political situation has been volatile since the murder of Henry’s predecessor President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. That has led to a drawn-out investigation in which 50 people – including his wife – were charged over his assassination last month. 

World News

Time to mask up again

There are new concerns about short-term exposure to air pollution, including bushfire smoke, dust and other pollutants, even when we inhale it for a few hours. A new report has found hundreds of Aussies die from incidental exposure every year, and it was especially bad during the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires, which are estimated to have caused 429 premature deaths. It’s the first time researchers have examined the impacts of short-lived episodes of air pollution as opposed to the effects of living in urban areas with persistently high levels – particularly from transport. That is front of mind for Melburnians who found out yesterday that Southern Cross Station has nitrogen dioxide levels that regularly exceed 90 times the limit recommended by the World Health Organization. And it’s not just Oz; over 10 million people in Thailand suffered from illnesses caused by pollution last year.

Australian News Health

Trading one footy obsession for another…

NRL fans got their Vegas moment last weekend, and now it’s AFL fans’ turn as the new season kicks off tonight at the (almost as glamorous…) Sydney Cricket Ground. The Sydney Swans v Melbourne Demons will play the first game of the opening round, which is being held entirely in NSW and Queensland in a bid to attract new fans. And that’s not the only change… It will be league CEO Andrew Dillon’s first season at the helm after Gillon McLachlan left at the end of the 2023 season. Collingwood are the reigning champions, but footyheads say the Brisbane Lions are a hot tip to take out this year’s title. 

And while we’re talking football… More details have come out about Sam Kerr’s stoush with a British cop. Reports say the star striker threw up in a taxi, and when the driver complained to police, she allegedly called one of the officers a “stupid white bastard”. Kerr’s lawyers are fighting to have the charge of racially harassing the police officer thrown out of court. 

Australian News Sport

The Wonka horror continues

It seems the nightmare of Glasgow’s now-infamous Willy Wonka Experience will continue to haunt people as a film company has announced it will make a new horror movie featuring the AI-generated character that terrified children at the event… Referred to only as The Unknown, it will centre around “an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls”. Due out later this year, the film’s plot will focus on the plight of “a renowned illustrator and his wife who are haunted by the tragic death of their son, Charlie” (named after the original Roald Dahl character…). Possibly a nod to the disastrous recent event, it will be set in the remote Scottish Highlands “where an unknowable evil awaits”. Crack out the chocky-coated popcorn… 


Apropos of Nothing

Australia’s Eurovision 2024 entrant has been named – it’s South Australian duo Electric Fields who will take their track One Milkali (One Blood) to Sweden in May. It’s the second time lucky for the band, who missed out on flying the Aussie flag at the pop music extravaganza in 2019…

The end of your favourite TV show is a bummer, but one Sopranos fan is holding on by forking out $127,000 for the diner booth used in the 2007 final episode. It makes Colin Firth’s $39,000 Mr Darcy shirt look like a bargain…

And Welsh woman Anne Hughes has become an unintentional TikTok star after a video went viral of her getting lifted up the side of a shop by her coat which got caught in some shutters. As they say in The Incredibles, “no capes”.

Quirky News

Squiz the Day

8.00am (AEDT) – 2024 Australian Olympic uniform unveiling – Sydney

11.15am (AEDT) – Deputy PM Richard Marles and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh are due to give evidence for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide – Sydney/livestream

12.30pm (AEDT) – Senator Katy Gallagher will address the National Press Club on the new Gender Equality strategy

7.30pm (AEDT) – The 2024 AFL season kicks off with Sydney Swans v Melbourne Football Club – Sydney, and broadcast live on Seven 

ABS Data Release – Household Spending Indicator; Lending Indicator; International Trade in Goods, January

Anniversary of:

  • Alexander Graham Bell receiving a patent for the telephone (1876)
  • the invention of Monopoly (1933)
  • Hitler breaking the Treaty of Versailles by sending troops to the Rhineland (1936)
  • death of director Stanley Kubrick (1999)

Squiz the Day

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