Squiz Today / 07 November 2019
Squiz Today – Thursday, 7 November
"I thought, 'Oh my God. I've got to try to get these.'"
Said Spanx founder Sara Blakely - the successful bidder for Olivia Newton-John’s tight black pants from Grease that were auctioned earlier this week. Picked up for a cool $235,000, she’s hopelessly devoted to leggings…
PREMIUM FEVER AS PRIVATE HEALTH COSTS SPIKE
Medibank Private’s share price fell 8.5% yesterday after it released an update about an adverse turn in its financial performance with hospital claims jumping unexpectedly. In short, the patient is not stable, could deteriorate further, and it might be contagious…
WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?
Medibank, Australia’s largest private health insurer, said it underestimated the growth in the cost of hospital claims for the 2019 financial year, which took $21 million out of its reserve. That number isn’t huge when you consider that Medibank pays out about $5.5 billion on hospital claims a year. But investors don’t like surprises, and that’s what they got yesterday. The announcement also adds to the tension about the cost of private health coverage.
SO ARE PREMIUMS GOING UP AGAIN?
Let’s just say they’re probably not going down… Medibank’s experience of higher hospital claims costs will likely be the same for the other insurers, experts say. And that's not a good sign for keeping premiums down. More broadly, the sector is under immense pressure from several angles. Private health membership is in decline with 30,000 Aussie abandoning their hospital cover last financial year with cost a top of mind concern for consumers. We're also getting "older, fatter, sicker - and more expensive to treat,” as the Financial Review (paywall) delicately put it yesterday. Which makes this chronic condition tricky to manage…
SQUIZ THE REST
ITS RAINING CASH IN DROUGHT-HIT TOWNS
“We’re going to cut the cheque, and we’re going to get the money out,” is how Drought Minister David Littleproud described the Morrison Government’s decision to commit more funding to support drought-ravaged communities and farmers. Reports said more than $500 million is about the be dropped off the back of a ute to rural and regional councils to keep their economies turning over. And farmers will get access to $1 billion in interest-free loans with generous repayment terms. We’ll likely get the details today, reports say. Cue pictures of PM Scott Morrison in a dusty paddock… Labor has accused the government of not doing enough to support farmers doing it tough.
We’ve got the drought covered in a Squiz Shortcut. How big is it, and how does support for rural communities and farmers work - it’s all covered.
RESPECT UNDERPINS EQUALITY IN SOCCER PAY DEAL
It’s a moment that’s been decades in the making. That’s what past and current members of our national women’s soccer team made of yesterday’s announcement that the gender pay gap in the sport has been closed. Put simply, the money generated by the Matildas and Socceroos will be split down the middle. Critics say the Matildas should not get the same as the blokes because they don't bring in as much revenue. But reports say the Socceroos believe it will lead to higher returns for themselves through the growth of the game. Matildas player Elise Kellond-Knight said “the new (agreement) shows signs of respect. Now we're going to be completely included.” Sporting types said it sets a benchmark for other professional and elite teams.
IMPEACHMENT GOES PUBLIC
The first public hearings in the investigation into the conduct of US President Donald Trump will start next week. The testimony of State Department officials about allegations Trump’s people withheld aid to Ukraine to get it to investigate his political rival Joe Biden will be televised. That includes Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who was ambassador to Ukraine, who says she was crowbarred out of her job by Trump's business associates. Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff said the open hearings were "an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves”. Republicans maintain the process is a stitch-up. #squizshortcut
CAR SALES A CANARY IN THE ECONOMIC MINE?
Like ants scurrying away when it’s about the rain (remember that?), new car sales are a barometer of consumer confidence and the health of the economy. Which is why new data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showing new car sales were down 9.1% in October compared to 12 months ago caught analysts’ attention yesterday. It’s the 19th consecutive month that sales have gone backwards. The data dovetailed nicely with a call on the Morrison Government to bring forward some of its scheduled tax cuts. Not due to start until mid-2022, economists from Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank said putting the extra $7 billion a year cuts back in taxpayers' hands would bolster economic activity. That sound you can hear is Treasurer Josh Frydenberg erecting a fence around his budget surplus dreams…
PM PUBLISHES PRESIDENTIAL PREZZIES
Overseas trips are fun and all that, but if you’re a prime minister who receives a lot of gifts on your travels, there’s a lot of paperwork to fill in. And so PM Scott Morrison’s gift to Australia is to reveal the haul he received during his recent State visit to the US. How about a calfskin leather jewellery box and calfskin leather photo album from the Trumps? Or would luggage and a silver bowl from Tiffany & Co tickle your fancy? Maybe a one-of-a-kind model of the American warship USS Canberra and a framed map of the Coral Sea - the place where Australia and America fought the Japanese in 1942? For now, Morrison’s keeping the map and silver bowl. On with the thank you notes…
DON’T BE LATE…
And definitely don't be late for your family. You might find yourself out of a job and off the Christmas card list…
SQUIZ THE DAY
The Labor Party is expected to release its review into the May election loss
ABS Data Release - International Trade in Goods and Services, September; Employment and Earnings, Public Sector, 2018-19; Building Approvals, September
Annual General Meetings - BHP; Downer EDI; Flight Centre
National Australia Bank’s full-year earnings announcement
Birthdays for DJ/music producer David Guetta (1967) and singer Lorde (1996)
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