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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Not again. Picture: Getty Images


1. First, markets, where it was Japan’s turn to stir things up by moving rates into negative territory. Yep, Bank of Japan will charge an interest rate of -0.1% for excess reserves parked at the bank by financial institutions. So that’s one in the eye for anyone thinking central banks are giving up meddling with economies, no matter how ineffective they seem to be at fixing them. As a result, traders are still cocky, the big indexes are all up and it could be a solid day on the ASX today with the SPI 200 up 0.7% after Friday’s 0.6% gain. The dollar’s steady, but not surprisingly, the yen is cheaper.

2. So this week in data looks like an interesting one. Locally, we have two huge RBA events tomorrow and Friday. The chances of a rate cut tomorrow are negligible at best, but Friday’s statement could hold something juicy between the lines. Today, anything could happen, because China’s releasing it official PMIs and Caixin manufacturing PMI. In the US, we get ISM manufacturing tonight and non-farm payrolls Friday. For all the rest, you’ll have to sneak a peek into Greg McKenna’s diary.

3. The billionaire caravan park boss. Zappos CEO Tony Hseih is worth about $1.1 billion, but he lives in a 22 square metre caravan with two pet llamas in Las Vegas. OK, so it’s the $500 million caravan park he built himself, but still, he gets to have staff meetings around the campfire, where this type of thing goes on:

“Two nights ago we had a bunch of musicians stop by, and Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, starts a rap battle with another performer.”

4. Andy Murray lost the Australian Open mens final last night, going down 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to Novak Djokovic. “I feel like I’ve been here before,” was the first thing the Scotsman said at the post-match presentation, and he was right – Murray now has a shocking 0-5 record in Australian Open finals. But this year he had an excellent excuse, as his wife Kim Sears is about to give birth to their first child:

Most men can’t even think about that without a strong drink in their shaking hands, let alone dominate two weeks of top-flight international tennis on the other side of the world.

5. Bill Gates. He rocked up for BBC Radio 4’s long-running “Desert Island Discs” show, which keeps things simple and asks guests what discs they’d take to a desert island. Or, if you must, what eight songs they’d “down-load”. Here’s what Gates chose, including the Willie Nelson song he played for Melinda on a beach in Hawaii the night before their wedding. Oh, wait – the song he got Willie Nelson to play for Melinda on a beach in Hawaii the night before their wedding.

6. Speaking of billions, here’s why Microsoft wants Windows 10 on a billion devices by July.

7. How to cut taxes and make money. This sounds like sorcery, but NSW premier Mike Baird reckons he has a proposal which could raise $32.5 billion in revenue in its first year and cut corporate taxes by 25% and reduce all income tax brackets by 7%. Brilliant. But you don’t really think you’ll get all that for free, do you?

8. Drop everything. You’ve got about two hours left to solve this puzzle:

Photo: GCHQ.

It’s a Christmas present from British intelligence and security organisation GCHQ devised to keep everyone busy over the holiday season. It worked so well, no one in the world has solved it yet. Do it properly and you’ll be left with a QR code which when activated, “will keep Britain safe”. (Which actually might have been the disincentive keeping the thing from being solved.)

9. Your happiness, if you’re a regular person, mostly hinges on time and money and how much you’ve got of both. But if you had to pick one, our advice would be to go with the one science says works best.

10. Apart from the fact cold weather could almost halve their battery charge, Tesla’s electric cars are brilliant. And one day you might not have to wait 40 minutes for a charge twice on the way from Sydney to Brisbane, after waiting for a rare station berth to be freed up. They’re also prohibitively expensive. But they are brilliant, and if Elon Musk can pull off this critical new model launch in March, you can strike one of those negatives off the list.

BONUS ITEM: “Lord of the Rings” is a lot funnier than you thought:

Have a great day.

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