Good morning. Here’s the story so far:
1 – In Asia, the carnage finally hit in Shanghai. It was around 1.25% up to 3,058 at 4.30pm AEDT yesterday before regulators banned the use of low-grade debt to borrow cash. Result? Bond and cash markets drove the USDCNY up 0.32% and Shangahai stock market down 5.43% at 2,856. That’s a huge and ugly bubble pop by the authorities. At the close on other markets, the Nikkei was down 0.68% to 17,813 and the Hang Seng was down 2.34% to 23,486.
2 – In Australia, the market was off and March SPI 200 futures fell 18 points to 5,226. Expect another weak open here but the reality is that the Australian market has a bearish bias as traders adjust to the reality of weak growth for Australia on top of the commodity outlook. On the data front, Westpac consumer sentiment data is out today which will be a good gauge of the economy heading into Christmas.
3 – It was a wild ride for the Aussie in the past 24 hours. Against the US dollar, it’s back at 0.8308 off a low of 0.8221 but all over the shop against the yen. At 99.25 now, it’s down from 100.18 yesterday and off a low of 98.53 overnight.
4 – The ATO’s billion-dollar stooge. An amnesty has so far flushed out $1.7 billion in assets hidden by Australians offshore in tax havens, according to the Australian Tax Office. With nine days of the amnesty left, some 1,750 Australians have so far fessed up to a total of $240 million in income plus the $1.7 billion in assets. One Australian had $30 million in income and $120 million in assets in Europe. You get one guess as to in which clock-fancying country most of the cash is stashed.
5 – The highest paid CEOs in Australia. The Australian Financial Review’s 2014 executive salary survey is out and sitting pretty on top is David Gyngell, the CEO of Nine Entertainment, with almost $19.6 million. Punching above his weight, you might say, because that’s at least $6 million more than the next guy, Kevin Chin, CEO of investment group Arowona International, with $13.3 million. But are they happy? You can browse the top 300 paid CEOs here if you have an AFR subscription.
6 – Boomers are buying and spending like there’s no tomorrow. They have accumulated the wealth, had the benefits of government largesse over the past decade and as they exit the workforce, they are paying less tax. As a result, they’re looming as the first generation to actually leave their kids off in a worse financial position, which is the stark message from a Grattan Institute report into the Wealth of Generations. There’s a fix which involves shifting asset taxes and reducing super tax concessions, but that wouldn’t be too popular at the polling booths now, would it?
7 – LeBron James touched Princess Kate. Look:
James had just spent 34 minutes playing for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers in their 110-88 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The princess’s eyes say it all. For his part, Prince William either didn’t seem to mind, or not know where to look. At least James didn’t pinch her backside, aka Ginger Spice on Wills’s dad Charles. (That’s in the link, too.)
8 – The CIA torture programme is beyond awful. A US Senate committee just released details of how the CIA pulled together and enforced its torture programme during the George W Bush era following the 9/11 attacks. For starters, it paid two Air Force veterans an incredible $80 million to come up with torture methods and boy, did they deliver. Try “rectal feeding”, sleep deprivation, and mock executions for starters. Other details coming to light include the fact President Bush wasn’t told about any of it for four years, other countries helped out and essentially, it didn’t work.
9 – Merry Christmas, Vice workers. When was the last time you got a Christmas bonus? As in, the good old type, real money, in an envelope? Online media success story Vice last week threw a party which saw CEO Shane Smith up on stage calling staffers up to receive $1500 in new bills for their efforts. At 700 employees, that’s more than $1 million in cash. Buzzfeed got charitable too, promising all its workers an, er, Apple watch…
10 – Julie Bishop is fighting with Tony Abbott’s chief of staff? According to a report in The Australian, which claims Abbott is not happy with Bishop’s “self-promoting campaign”. The relationship between Bishop and the PM’s COS Peta Credlin has been described by one Coalition frontbencher as “like two Siamese fighting fish stuck in the same tank” and, and… hey, it’s Christmas – we’re all scratching for stories right now.
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