10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

David Thodey. Photo: Getty Images

Good morning and welcome to Friday. Here’s the big news:

1. David Thodey is out. Telstra’s CEO will step down on May 1 for the role he’s held for almost six years. Telstra’s chief financial officer Andrew Penn will replace him. Thodey is widely seen to have reinvented the company, having dumped legacy assets including its stake in Sensis, the phone directory provider. Already this year, revenue from the mobile division has doubled. There’s also reports that Penn will receive double Thodey’s salary.

Here’s what share prices have done under Thodey:


2. Greece backed down… sort of. After its play to scrap and roll back reform policies tied to its bailout agreement failed, the new Greek Government last night offered an olive branch to the Eurogroup – give us a six-month loan extension. That’s a huge amount of ground to give up, but now the heat is squarely on Germany, which countered the offer in a very German way. By saying no. The Italians and the French are taking the offer seriously though.

3. To the markets, where locally, after a slight dip yesterday, SPI 200 traders took the March contract up 9 points to 5,877.

4. In Asia yesterday, the Nikkei rose to a 15-year high – an amazing statistic and another testament to QE and free money. Until recently the high was the June/July prices for the Nikkei just before the GFC started to emerge. But with this week’s move, the GFC and a weak economy have been washed away.

5. The Aussie is just right, says the NAB, which just looked at all the valuation models and came to the conclusion that the RBA is over-egging its claim the dollar is still over-valued. Ray Attrill, the NAB’s co-head of Currency Strategy, is still expected further weakness ahead for the battler, but highlights that in both AUDUSD and TWI terms the Aussie is back at post-float averages. And the current price seems to be working well enough for the economy. It sits at 0.7789 and USDJPY is at 118.97.

6. The cost of running Air Force One is mind-blowing. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) letter obtained by non-profit Judicial Watch is going to cause serious concern for US taxpayers, starting with the fact they pay $US206,000 every hour the President is in the air.

Air force oneThe White HousePicture courtesy the White House.

The highlight is Obama’s June 2013 trip to Belfast, Ireland, including a Dublin sightseeing side trip by Michelle Obama, her daughters, and her entourage, which cost taxpayers $US7,921,638.66.

7. Struggling to save money? You’re not alone, especially if you’re under 35, where in the US you would have recorded a savings rate of -2% last year. Ethan Bloch is here to help, with his new app released today called Digit. In a nutshell, Digit watches your spending and then squirrels away little bits of cash that it thinks you don’t need immediately into a separate account. The catch is you don’t earn interest on the savings bit (which is barely noticeable these days anyway.)

8. Also on banks, startups are coming for you. Especially in Sydney, where a co-working space has just opened up with 125 desks reserved for those who want to, ahem, “digitally disrupt” the four majors. Applications opened this week for the Clarence St office, set up by Tyro, the payments company that’s raised $33 million, processed $6.5 billion in payments and now employs 160 staff. The first company to secure a spot was Lend2Fund which is establishing a marketplace for sophisticated investors, and Tyro CEO Jost Stollmann is already expecting the need to expand to another floor.

9. You can tell lots about a man by looking at the difference in size between his index and ring fingers. Sperm count, chance of heart attack, facial masculinity, and yes, penis size. And now you can add “how nice is he towards women” to the list. Science says so, because it’s an indicator of how much testosterone he was exposed to in the womb.

10. It’s the Year of the Goat. The Chinese lunar calendar cycles through the animals in the zodiac, so it’s been 12 years since the last Year of the Goat. CMC Markets released a chart showing how stock markets perform historically against each zodiac sign and it’s interesting reading. For the Goat, the news is S&P 500 fans can expect a little under average returns this years, but it should be off-the-chart great for the Hang Seng, FTSE and S&P/ASX.

BONUS ITEM: The world is facing a Bro Colony Collapse. Here’s how to save our bros.

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