Good morning! Here’s what you need to know as the clock ticks down to the weekend…
1. Another awkward interview for an Australian minister. Workplace relations minister Eric Abetz has issued a statement this morning denying he believes there’s a link between abortion and breast cancer – following a TV interview last night in which he referenced 1950s studies which had connected the two. Abetz says he was cut off before being able to clarify his position. OK, but it’s another distraction and follows the shocker of an interview from Attorney-General George Brandis in which he stumbled trying to distinguish between “website addresses” and their content which would be captured under the counter-terrorism data retention proposals. Perhaps its time for a “strategic six-month review” assignment for some ministers so the government can get on with things…
2. … like passing the federal budget. Yesterday’s shock rise in the Australian unemployment rate to 6.4% has prompted Treasurer Joe Hockey to call on the Senate to back the budget measures which remain tangled in the politics of the new Upper House. “Doing nothing about the budget position is not an option, the status quo is not an option. ‘She’ll be right’ is not a policy,” Hockey told The Australian. There are a couple of points to keep in mind on the numbers – first, there are still almost a record number of Australians in work, and second, the numbers come with a change in methodology which might create some statistical noise. But the headline number throws the still-fragile state of the economy into sharp focus. The RBA’s Statement on Monetary Policy out today will draw special attention.
3. To the markets, and the main US bourses all fell about half a point in the overnight session, continuing a rough month for stocks. The ASX September futures contract is down 23 points to 5245 bid ahead of the start of trade, roughly in line with the fall in the US. Asia was mixed yesterday with the Nikkei up almost 0.5%, while in Shanghai the fall off the recent highs continued, with a drop of 1.33%. Hong Kong was down 0.8%. With the lead from the US overnight, it’s looking like a mute end to the week.
4. Geopolitical risk is in play, with Russia retaliating against sanctions by banning food imports from the US, the EU, as well as Australia and Canada. Australia’s exposure is limited, but there are still some sectors, especially beef, that will be hit. Details here. The US has also been reportedly considering airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq – the latest development being the militants seizing the country’s largest dam.
5. BP is recalling its entire truck fleet in Australia after one of its tankers was involved in a triple fatality in Victoria yesterday. Two women and a four-year-old child were killed when their car was crushed by the tanker, which police believe separated from the truck as it took a corner. Horrifying.
6. Businessweek’s cover carries the headline: “In defence of the Silicon Valley tech bro”. There’s a great graphic that shows what went into the photo for the cover. Plenty of people in tech-hipster outposts of Australia’s major cities will smile in recognition.
7. How to stuff it up at a startup. Noah Kagan is a successful entrepreneur but he has documented how he botched the opportunity of a lifetime when he was working at Facebook in its early days. He ended up being fired for, among other things, leaking information to TechCrunch and failing to adapt to the growing scale of the company – more people meant more meetings and management process became a fact of life. He resisted the cultural change and fell off the bus. And perhaps worst, he took a slightly higher salary instead of lower pay plus more stock options. That decision to earn an extra $5,000 a year ended up costing him $185 million.
8. There’s talk of panic selling in the London housing market…. The British economic recovery has seen an extraordinary boom in property prices in the capital, but with signs of it slowing down, some investors are worried that it’s their last chance to get out.
9. … but it’s more like panic buying for Kimye. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have grown out of their $11 million mansion are reportedly about to drop $20 million on new digs in Calabasas. Some photos of the place, which includes 1,000 square feet of an outdoor patio and entertaining area, are here. And a glimpse:
10. If you’re finding all of that a bit grim, here are some five-minute tricks for having a happier start to your work day.
Bonus item: Bill Clinton sings Blurred Lines, a highlight from Baracks Dubs.
Have a great weekend. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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