1. First, to Bangkok, where a popular tourist destination was hit by terrorists around 10pm last night. At least 18 are dead from the pipe bomb explosions, which targeted the Erawan Shrine. There’s no reports of Australian deaths as yet, but there is one report of Jimmy Barnes narrowly avoiding the blast after he decided to take his family via a walkway over the site of the attack just seconds before it hit.
2. To markets, where the big news continues to be the crash in commodity prices. Nymex crude was down another 1.5% overnight, copper pushed lower again and the CRB commodity index printed a fresh 11-year low. All of which didn’t really hurt stocks, with the US recovering from early falls thatnks to a 10-year high in home builder confidence. The FTSE was flat and the DAX ended in the red. On the local, ASX SPI 200 futures are up 9 points again today indicating a mildly positive bias at trade’s open.
3. The dollar. It’s heading lower, according to the NAB, which yesterday downgraded its forecast for the Aussie to 68 cents – in the first half of 2016. NAB’s Ray Attrill said this came from “anticipation of (modest) additional US dollar strength assuming the start of Fed policy normalisation is not delayed beyond 2015, ongoing negative terms of trade pressures and the aforementioned drag from rising USD/Asia FX in general – plus some allowance for overshoot – drives the current forecasts.” Which actually sounds like quite a few “ifs”.
4. It’s turning into another horrendous week for Tony Abbott. Questions about Dyson Heydon’s ability to continue as head of the Royal Commission into trade union corruption are now very much live, with emails disclosed yesterday apparently indicating he was aware that speaking at a party Liberal Party fundraiser would be inappropriate if he was still running the inquiry. We can expect a denouement on that later in the week. And then today there’s a Newspoll showing the total collapse of the Coalition’s huge 11-point margin in the WA seat of Canning, where there’ll be a by-election following the death of Don Randall. The Coalition leads Labor in the seat by a margin of just 51 to 49, so it’s very much a contest, even though typically nobody likes to really see one when a seat is vacated in these circumstances.
5. On pollies, here’s all our federal ones flying across Australia:
That’s a visualisation from a team at Acquire Procurement Services who realised the data was publically available and decided to spend “a few days” on creating a tool so anyone could track a pollie flying on their money. Here’s some of the “interesting” things they discovered.
6. Sydney real estate dreams. Our own Alex Heber bit the bullet this time last year and bought a property in Sydney’s red-hot housing market – on the same day the RBA said property was overvalued. While it’s a great feeling to have everyone tell you you’ve “done well”, it never changes the fact there’s still a huge lump of money to be paid off for the next 20-odd years. So here’s what Alex has learned about what it really means to have “skin in the game”.
7. The NAB’s onto it, though. Fairfax reports this morning that the bank has selected 40 postcodes for “red flag” status. While it won’t say where they are, it’s concerned about places which “over-rely on single industries for growth, have high unemployment, or property prices have run too hard”.
8. Table salt versus sea salt. The Facebook scientists are out again lately, telling us all that natural sea salt is “healthier”. Here’s what Neil deGrasse Tyson has to say about that:
Just an FYI: All table salt is sea salt. Mined salt just happens to come from long-buried, evaporated, prehistoric seas.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 16, 2015
“Table salt” is just ground finer so it pours better, with idoine added so you and your kids don’t get a goiter.
9. Have you failed recently? Here’s seven steps which will not only help you overcome it, but ensure you a) Don’t do it again and b) Become even more awesome.
10. Long-haul trips. Make no mistake – being trapped in an airborne metal tube for hours on end will take its toll on you. But we’ve rounded up 26 tips that will make it almost bearable, including the excellent fact that eating loads of spaghetti helps.
BONUS ITEM: David Cameron, meanwhile, is smashing his long haul flights. Well, smashing Pringles at least – paprika flavour, sitting in economy on a flight to Portugal. He was snapped doing a bit of work by a stunned young holidaymaker who, thanks to the modern joy of being able to use mobile phones in flight, shared it with the world.
Cameron was looking extremely unentitled – much more “man of the people” than that time he was caught eating a hot dog with a knife and fork.
BONUS BONUS ITEM: Picture of a British PM eating a hot dog with a knife and fork.
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