Squiz Today / 29 September 2021
Squiz Today – Wednesday, 29 September
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Squiz Today Podcast
Ear to ear, we’ve got you covered.
Today’s listen time: 9 minutes
“It’s an unmitigated nightmare.”
Said one US office worker of the return to the office post-COVID-enforced working from home. One of the many problems: meetings are still conducted on video calls, and if two people seated nearby have their microphones on, it creates an echo on the call. It’s. The. Worst.
A global energy crisis comes knocking
From Europe to Asia, there are growing concerns about critical energy shortages that have the potential to upend the world’s economic recovery as we try to move on from the COVID cluster-disaster of the last 18 months.
WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
• China’s northeast is suffering energy shortages of such significance that analysts think 44% of China’s industrial activity has been affected. Some of it is self-imposed the Chinese Government toughened emissions standards. But another big problem is the shortage of coal to fire up power generators, and that’s got a lot to do with China’s ban on Aussie coal during its ongoing crankiness with our government.
• Europe and the UK can’t get enough natural gas – not a good place to be as they head into a colder than usual winter. Wholesale gas prices have risen by 400-500% in the last year – that’s said to be down to countries trying to outbid one another for supplies as Russia plays political games with its gas exports. And there are growing concerns for poorer nations that will likely get caught up in price hikes and supply crunches.
• As all that happens, the UK is experiencing petrol and diesel shortages that are hurting industries and freaking out locals. Experts say that’s down to a shortage of truck drivers and Brexit.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Well, the world runs on fuel and electricity, and there are fears that what’s going down could touch every corner of the global economy. There’s no simple cause and fix – #itscomplicated… But supply chains are expected to be squeezed, which will likely lead to price hikes – including on the goods Australia imports. And given the link between energy production, climate change and reducing emissions, it’s up for discussion between world leaders when they gather in Glasgow in November. It’s another hairy walnut to add to the mounting pile of hairy walnuts…
Squiz the Rest
A comeback for al-Qaeda
Overnight, America’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin have been questioned in Congress about last month’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan – and the picture isn’t pretty… Austin said the speed that Afghanistan’s national guard crumbled was a shock. “We helped build a state, but we could not forge a nation,” he said of local forces’ surrender, often without firing a shot against the Taliban. Milley says al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan could threaten the US in as little as 12 months – and that the Taliban has not broken ties with the terror organisation responsible for the 9/11 attacks on America. He also backed a senior colleague who said they recommended the US keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan to support the government – advice US President Joe Biden has said he wasn’t given “that I can recall.”World News
Hey big lender…
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has hinted that a reining in of home loans will happen before the end of the year as concerns grow about surging prices. They’re up 18.4% over the past year thanks to record-low interest rates – and that’s seen some large loans offered to home buyers. Cue talk of new restrictions on the amount that can be lent and who financial institutions can lend to. Even the International Monetary Fund has urged regulators to cool the boom… It’s been done before, and this time around, reports say we’re likely to see debt-to-income ratios that make it harder for Aussies to get massive home loans. Analysts say that would hit investors hardest.Business & Finance
Reining in Google
Speaking of crackdowns… A new report by the competition regulator is challenging Google’s dominance in online advertising, saying it’s harming Aussie businesses and consumers. A long-awaited report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that in 2020, more than 90% of clicks on ads passed through at least one Google service. That means that a good chunk of ad revenue went to the tech giant. The report also found Google used its power to reduce competition and that the vast troves of information it collects from users give it a “data advantage” over competitors. The fix: ACCC boss Rod Sims wants new powers to improve Australia’s online advertising market competition. For Google’s part, it says it delivers benefits for businesses and consumers. And speaking of big tech… TikTok yesterday reported it has 1 billion monthly users. For comparison, Facebook has about 3.5 billion…Technology
Meet your crypto investment adviser…
His name is Mr Goxx, and he’s a cryptocurrency trading hamster, obviously… Named after crypto exchange Mt Gox (which filed for bankruptcy after nearly US$500 million worth of Bitcoin was stolen from its accounts), he’s the pet of an anonymous German man. And he’s beating human investors from his special trading office. Mr Goxx has a pretty simple process: he runs to his “intention wheel” to pick a cryptocurrency and then goes through one of 2 tunnels: one for buy, one for sell. And look, it’s not been all smooth sailing… He had a rough first month of trading in June, but he was getting returns rivalling some big names in investment by September. You can follow him on Twitter, check him out on video, and note the disclaimer…Quirky News
Some psychology to eating greens
We talked last week about overcoming any aversion to eating more stinky/gassy vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. And now scientists reckon they have figured out how to get kids to up their intake of plant matter: sit-down family meals and a dose of positivity. Making threats or promising rewards increases a child’s likelihood of being a fussy eater, they say. But relaxing meals together and involving kids in food preparation can lead to fussy eaters dropping their anti-veg ways. Lead researcher Laine Chilman acknowledged getting kids to eat veggies was “no small feat”, but “positive parenting, no matter how difficult it can be in certain situations, is the best step forward for fussy eaters”. Sounds about as easy as fitting into the pair of jeans you wore when you were 21yo…Australian News
Apropos of Nothing
After nagging the good people at Blue Origin for the longest time, Sydney-born venture capitalist Chris Boshuizen is set to become the 3rd Aussie to visit space. Jeff Bezos’s space venture is launching a new mission next month and Boshuizen’s possible crewmate is Captain Kirk himself…
Do you know your E-Girl from your Y2K? What about your Pastel-Goth from your Grandmacore? They’re the latest fashion tribes. And we’re taking it personally that a group based on old tracksuit pants is not an option…Quirky News
Squiz the Day
12.30pm (AEST) – Former PM Malcolm Turnbull addresses the National Press Club – virtual and from Canberra
And it’s one of the best days of the year… It’s the start of Fat Bear Week (on until 5 October)
• American oil tycoon John D Rockefeller becoming the world’s first billionaire (1916)
• the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 777.68 points, its largest single-day point loss after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and doubts over the futures other financial institutions, which sparked the Global Financial Crisis (2008)
• the death of iconic Aussie singer Helen Reddy (2020)