Good morning, and welcome to Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:
It’s budget day. Australian federal treasurer Joe Hockey will deliver his first budget tonight at 7.30pm AEST. After weeks of softening-up for a range of spending cuts and tax increases, including a deficit levy and an increase in fuel excise, ministers have increasingly been saying that people should wait to see the full package. While there’s no doubt there’ll be a swathe of cuts, some government agencies will be axed, and a lot of people will be worse off, it’s worth considering if there might be a (small) rabbit in the hat: today there are reports suggesting there’ll actually be a reduction in the tax burden of around $5.7 billion. We’ll have live coverage on BI from 7.30pm tonight including reaction from some of the country’s top economists.
Finding growth. The central problem for the Australian government in this budget is that public spending must be reined in but if they cut too deep, too fast, they’ll take all the momentum out of the economy just when it’s starting to gather strength again. Interestingly the government has been saying there’ll be significant involvement from the private sector in the infrastructure package and depending on the size this could well be part of counterbalance to the public sector spending cuts. The infrastructure package will be the centre of this budget and the asset recycling scheme, which will encourage states to sell off existing infrastructure and invest the proceeds in new roads, has the potential to unleash a wave of job-intensive projects over the coming years. The big four banks all have projections for the size of the deficit next financial year.
Stocks surge. The main US bourses all rose with the Dow up 0.68%, the S&P 500 up 0.97% and the NASDAQ going on a tear up 1.77%. Some of the rise might have been short covering based on some big bets against companies last week but there’s talk of a big Q4 GDP number ahead for the US and it also looks like the American government is on track to reduce its budget deficit. More here.
The day ahead. The big economic news in Australia will be the budget which tries to map out the government’s road to a surplus within a decade. China’s financial deregulation package, released over the weekend, saw the Shanghai exchange rally 2.08% yesterday, while the Hang Seng was up 1.83%. The Nikkei fell 0.35% after Japanese trade data disappointed. Today regional markets will be watching Chinese retail sales and industrial production.
ABS leaks investigation. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is calling in an external review after one of its staff was charged over an alleged $7 million insider trading scandal based on dollar trading using leaked ABS data. Access levels to sensitive data will be under the microscope.
Privacy in flight. The B-Tourist is a contraption designed to give you extra privacy while flying economy. It’s a strap that attaches to the headrest in front of you and reaches back to your own headrest – covering up the activity in your pod and doubling as a headrest for sleep. The trouble is, it looks ridiculous. Some people will point out that umbrellas looked ridiculous too when they first appeared, but still, look at it:
Vale Tom Hafey. The AFL community is in mourning today after news of the death of original Hall of Famer and AFL legend Tom Hafey at 82. Hafey coached Richmond to 4 Premierships, was named coach of its team of the Century and coached Collingwood to a number of unsuccessful grand final appearances before switching to Geelong. In 1986 he was the inaugural coach of the Sydney Swans. Known as t-shirt Tommy for his fitness regime and the way only he could wear a t-shirt, Hafey will be remembered for his strength, fitness, coaching prowess and his commitment to his players.
Ice melt. NASA announced this morning that two new studies make it almost certain the collapse of the western ice sheets in Antarctica is now unstoppable, based on the latest modelling and data. Over about two centuries this would lead to global sea level rises that could lead to devastating flooding incidents in low-lying cities around the world.
Social media strategy hype. Guy Kawasaki is Apple’s former chief evangelist, now working for Australian start-up Canva. He has some direct advice for business leaders who are wondering about how best to go about their social media presence. This includes: Self-serving as this may be, watch what we do with Canva. To get the total picture, you need to look at our efforts on Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and our blog. Seriously, everything is tied together. This is the work of mostly one person… If anyone tells you need a team of people or an outside agency, they’re bullshitting you. One great person can do it.
How to think like a freak. Freakonomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner have a new book out, outlining how anyone can use the lateral thinking processes in their original cult hit. In an interview with BI, Levitt talks about how businesses hate not having the answers to questions, and suggests every once in a while taking a really deep look at a problem that really perplexes and inspires you.
Bonus item: Game of Thrones writers put a Monty Python reference into the latest episode of the show, using insults from the Frenchman on the ramparts in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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