Squiz Today / 17 March 2020
Squiz Today – Tuesday, 17 March
“Eventually, everyone will be quarantined to their houses with no sports to watch... and in 9 months from now a boom of babies will be born... and we will call them the coronials.”
GOVERNMENTS SCRAMBLE AS COVID-19 HURTS MARKETS
Continuing unease about the spread of COVID-19 saw $162 billion stripped from the value of our top 200 listed companies yesterday as the Aussie share market fell 9.7%. It was the worst one-day sell-off since 1987, and its recent bad run takes it back to April 2016 levels. The Australian Stock Exchange’s top 200 companies have lost 30% of their collective value since 20 January as concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the global economy grow.
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO STOP IT?
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission yesterday issued emergency trading restrictions to slow things down a bit. But beyond the regulator stepping in, it’s a confidence-building game… PM Scott Morrison is looking at a second round of federal government spending just days after a $17.6 billion stimulus package was announced. And the Reserve Bank yesterday said it’s looking at doing more to “support the Australian economy”, which could include an out-of-session cut that would take interest rates to a new record low of 0.25% in an attempt to rev-up economic activity. After that, it’s all about quantitative easing…
OH GEE … ARE YOU REALLY GOING THERE?
C’mon… Quantitative easing is used by central banks to stimulate the economy when measures like lowering interest rates don’t do the trick. Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has previously said it’s the “outright purchase of assets from the private sector, paying for those assets by creating central bank reserves.” Others (like satirists Clarke & Dawe) say it's the equivalent of printing money. Whatever it is, it's an extraordinary action that our Reserve Bank has shied away from in the past. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve has plans for $700 billion of it, as well as moving to slash interest rates to virtually zero as part of its battle against the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Not that world markets appreciated the efforts falling further overnight…
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MEANWHILE, IN OTHER CORONAVIRUS NEWS…
• Victoria, Western Oz and the ACT declared states of emergency yesterday giving those governments more power to contain the virus. And police in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland will pause roadside breath testing.
• RSL branches in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia have called off Anzac Day commemorations. Some dawn services will be held, but the public will be asked not to attend.
• The European Union will shut its borders to non-essential travellers and UK PM Boris Johnson’s all about ‘social distancing’ after a ‘herd immunity’ approach was met with concern. Canada will also close its borders, except to US citizens. New York City and Los Angeles have shut down bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. And you know things are serious when Ireland shuts down all the nation’s pubs ahead of St Patrick’s Day…
• There are now more reported cases of COVID-19 outside of mainland China than inside. It’s a new dangerous milestone in the evolution of this pandemic.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF DEBATE... AND CAMPAIGN
There was no studio audience, the candidates exchanged an elbow bump instead of a handshake, and their lecterns were far apart. But the first one-on-one US Democratic debate brought presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders together to talk about all things coronavirus, health and economy. And both have basically committed to choosing a woman as their running mate. Consensus on who won is not clear… What is clear is that this year’s race to become US president will be different from the campaigns that have gone before it.
GANTZ GETS ANOTHER GO
Israel’s opposition leader Benny Gantz has been given the green light by President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government after current PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s centre-right Likud Party failed to reach a majority. But, as Israel's political form dictates, it remains unclear if he will be able to form a coalition. Meanwhile, Netanyahu's corruption trial that was set to kick off today has been postponed for two months with Israel’s court system affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PETROL PRICES
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission will name and shame petrol retailers who price gouge as prices plummet worldwide. The backstory: the price of oil has almost halved since the start of the year with major players Saudi Arabia and Russia in a production war. And so the consumer watchdog will be on the lookout to ensure petrol retailers pass on some relief to consumers. “A sustained drop in these prices should - all else being equal - lead to lower prices at the local bowser,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said yesterday. Indeed…
AMAZON IN OZ UPS SALES...
… but hasn’t turned a profit. The online retail giant’s latest financial report revealed that despite reporting a 92.4% increase in revenue from the year before, the company failed to get into the black during its three years in operation due to income tax, wage and marketing costs. While the company’s revenue rose from $292 million in 2018 to $562 million in 2019, it lost $4.7 million for the year after tax. Part of the sales uptick was thanks to a big increase in the size of the range to 125 million products. Which you’d have to think would hold it in good stead as we head towards a time when internet shopping is highly relevant…
APROPOS OF NOTHING - VIRAL EDITION
Need some "Virus, Mold, And Germ Destroying Air And Surface Sanitizer" for US$399.95? Or maybe a US$149.95 "virus-eliminating" personal air purifier that’s worn as a necklace? If money is no object, this is the coronavirus shopping guide for you…
And this suggestion for a new Olympic logo is one for the times.
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To be sure, to be sure, it’s St Patrick's Day
ABS Data Release - Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities, December
Birthdays for actor Kurt Russell (1951), musician Billy Corgan (1967), adult film star Stormy Daniels (1979), and musician Grimes (1988)
Anniversary of the deaths of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (180), Saint Patrick (461), physicist Christian Doppler (1853)
Anniversary of the patenting of the rubber band and self-raising flour (1845)
Anniversary of Albert Einstein finishing his scientific paper detailing his Quantum Theory of Light, one of the foundations of modern physics (1905)
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