March 17


Investing

Saudi Arabia creates a girls' council to empower women - but where are the girls?

15 March 2017 | The Age

Cairo: At first glance, it seemed as if Saudi Arabia was poised for a bit of change. With great fanfare, the governor of Qassim province announced the creation of a girls' council - the first of its kind in the kingdom - intended to offer more opportunities for women and give them a voice.

It was an encouraging sign for a nation that regularly ranks near the bottom of global surveys on gender rights.


Wall St: US shares snap eight-day losing streak

28 March 2017 | ABC

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose solidly after a survey on Tuesday revealed consumer confidence in the US economy rose in March.

NAB economist David de Garis wrote in analyst note that a number of other factors may have contributed to the gains in global markets overnight.


News

Cashless Card Extended, Despite Unhappy 49 Per cent

30 March 2017 | Sam Richards

Ceduna residents on welfare will continue to receive 80 per cent of their payments on cashless cards, despite 49 per cent of recipients saying it makes their life worse.

The cashless card, also being trialled in WA, can’t be used to withdraw physical cash and can’t be used at outlets such as bottle shops or gambling houses.


Federal government picks fight with super industry

29 March 2017 | SMH

A fierce fight looks likely between the federal government and the $2 trillion superannuation industry over a plan to overhaul the default superannuation system.


Bronwyn Bishop rails against socialists while collecting a $250k pension from taxpayers

29 March 2017 | The Age

Consider this: since Bronwyn Bishop finally left the federal Parliament nine months ago – kicking and screaming after being rolled by her own party – Australian taxpayers have paid her nearly $200,000.


Markets may regret not giving a damn about Article 50

29 March 2017 | AFR

For European politicians, desperate to downplay the impact of Britain's breach with the single market, the market reaction could not have been more satisfactory.



Turnbull government warns Fair Work Commission against 'excessive' minimum wage rise

29 March 2017 | The Age

The Turnbull government has urged the Fair Work Commission to take a cautious approach to raising the minimum wage, warning an "excessive" pay rise could imperil job creation in a changing economy.


Public housing in crisis as available stock dwindles

28 March 2017 | Kelly Hughes

A report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute revealed Australia’s public housing supply decreased by 4.1 per cent in the last fifteen years despite a surge in demand.

Australian government bodies like Government Property NSW have privatised the sale of public housing stock, auctioning off more than $1 billion worth of property since 2011.


'They could not recover any of my money': millions wait for their superannuation

27 March 2017 | SMH

Nicole Miller is owed more than $6000 in superannuation from her former employer, PR agency Kreab Gavin Anderson.


Donald Trump's next job: avoid government shutdown

27 March 2017 | AFR

US President Donald Trump is trying to revive his presidency after the healthcare debacle, but before nailing tax reform he will need to avert a government shutdown.

The potential for a government closure is not high on the radar of Wall Street, but is a sleeper issue in the Washington Beltway.

 


Tony Shepherd takes aim at baby boomers

26 March 2017 | AFR

Tony Shepherd has lashed out at his own baby boomer generation's entitlement mentality, saying continued failure to address looming problems caused by the ageing population will ultimately erode the living standards of younger Australians.




ASIC needs more power over white-collar criminals, according to Senate

26 March 2017 | AFR

When Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft told a room full of business journalists that Australia is a paradise for white-collar criminals, it ruffled a lot of feathers.

At a Senate estimates hearing the next day, Medcraft tried to "correct" the comments as reported. "Basically the point is that we want to make sure we don't become a paradise," he said.




Why Chinese investors keep buying Australian property: it's cheap

25 March 2017 | ABC

It is said real estate is all about "position, position, position".

Perspective could equally be thrown into the equation as well, and from the perspective of China's rapidly growing millionaire class, Australian capital city properties are not only cheap, but high-yielding as well.


Blackmail, extortion and slavery at a restaurant near you

25 March 2017 | The Age

Pawanjeet Heir's eyes well up as she retells the story of how she unwittingly became a victim of visa fraud, extortion and indentured servitude.

She is now facing her worst nightmare: deportation, along with her husband and young son, who have given up hope after the system failed them.


Property investors punched by out-of-cycle interest rate hikes

25 March 2017 | AFR

Property investors with interest-only loans from Commonwealth Bank of Australia have been hit with a second interest rate rise in six weeks, as banks seek to stave off more aggressive regulatory intervention in the housing market. 



Malcolm Turnbull vows no surrender on company tax plan

25 March 2017 | AFR

The federal government will not give up trying to implement its full package of company tax cuts after the Senate votes next week to allow only the first phase of the 10-year plan – a tax cut for small business.



Slater and Gordon: ASIC clears embattled law firm of falsifying records

23 March 2017 | ABC

The corporate regulator has cleared embattled law firm Slater and Gordon of falsifying its financial records and accounts, saying there was no indication of any breach of law and no penalties will be enforced.


Home ownership 8 per cent higher in suburbs with shared equity schemes

23 March 2017 | The Age

Suburbs with shared equity schemes have seen an 8 per cent rise in levels of home ownership compared to similar areas in NSW and Victoria, a new study has found, as debate surrounds the government's housing affordability package expected in the May budget.


A $4.7 trillion deal? Painter tells SEC he's richer than Gates, Buffett and Bezos

23 March 2017 | The Age

A few hours after the New York market closed on February 1, an obscure Chicago artist by the name of Antonio Lee told the world he had become the world's richest man.


Republicans delay House vote to repeal Affordable Care Act

23 March 2017 | The Guardian

The Republicans on Thursday abandoned a vote on their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as Donald Trump and House speaker Paul Ryan faced rebellion across the House Republican caucus.


About 2.8 million Australians get underpaid $5.6 billion worth of superannuation

22 March 2017 | SMH

The tax man should be undertaking random audits of employers to help identify potentially $5.6 billion worth of unpaid superannuation owed to almost 2.8 million Australians, according to Industry Super Australia.


We should worry about corporate wrongs, not class actions: judge

22 March 2017 | SMH

Concerns that there are too many class actions against companies are ill founded, according to Federal Court judge Bernard Murphy. 

Justice Murphy applauded Australia's current class action regime on the 25th anniversary of the regime in Australia.


Senator Derryn Hinch to back company tax cuts if Government dumps inclusion of big business

22 March 2017 | ABC

Key Senate crossbencher Derryn Hinch believes the Federal Government is poised to dump part of its $48 billion company tax cut bill, to prioritise delivering immediate savings to small and medium-sized businesses.


Trump policy doubts spark $26b slump on ASX

22 March 2017 | SMH

A sharp overnight drop on Wall Street following concerns about US President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda sparked the biggest slide on the local sharemarket since his election victory last November.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 fell 1.6 per cent to 5684.5, shedding $26 billion in value, after the S&P500 fell 1.1 per cent, its first drop by more than 1 per cent in 109 sessions.


Iron ore futures in China sink into bear market

22 March 2017 | AFR

Iron ore is getting battered. After rounds of warnings that this year's rally may be overdone, the raw material is in retreat as doubts gather about the strength of demand in China as steel sells off and record port stockpiles put a spotlight on rising supplies.



China and Australia to deal on beef, energy and security

22 March 2017 | AFR

Australia and China will escalate the push for a regional trade deal, as well as sign new bilateral agreements on beef exports, energy and security when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Canberra and Sydney for an annual leaders meeting.





Banking commission of inquiry push by crossbench, Greens

21 March 2017 | The Age

Pressure is building for a commission of inquiry into Australia's scandal-plagued banking system after the Senate crossbench threw its weight behind a Greens bill to establish one.


CBA set to mop up Aussie Home Loans, attention on price

21 March 2017 | AFR

The game's almost up for "Aussie" John Symond at his mortgage broker, Aussie Home Loans. 

Street Talk understands Commonwealth Bank of Australia is set to pick up the final 20 per cent of Aussie it does not already own and the discussion now is all about price. 

 


Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam

21 March 2017 | The Guardian

The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.

Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia.


Likely new ABC chairman Justin Milne is a Turnbull guy

21 March 2017 | AFR

Malcolm Turnbull is about to make the man who helped him become even richer one of the most powerful media figures in Australia.




Graeme Watson calls for review of all minimum wages and conditions

21 March 2017 | AFR

Former Fair Work Commission vice president Graeme Watson has called for a comprehensive review of all minimum workplace conditions, going beyond weekend penalty rates and extending to "high" minimum wages, after arguing they were causing unemployment.



Race law change could could cost seats, Libs warned

21 March 2017 | AFR

The government's decision to water down race hate protection laws could cost it up to six seats due to a backlash from ethnic groups, even though the changes will never become law, party insiders have warned.



Banks say lifting rates is the right thing to do

20 March 2017 | AFR

NAB and Westpac have defended their move to raise interest rates, arguing that adjusting prices is the safest and most effective way to manage growth of their loan books.

Banks have come under attack for last week's decision to raise interest rates for investors and owner occupiers in a move that was framed as a response to loan growth caps from regulators and a means to pass on additional funding costs.





ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft wants to hit banks with bigger fines

20 March 2017 | AFR

The chairman of the corporate regulator has renewed calls for the federal government to boost penalties for breaching corporate law, after Westpac Banking Corp and ANZ Banking Group paid a paltry $6 million following revelations of failures in their foreign exchange divisions. 



Medibank hits back against deceptive conduct allegations

20 March 2017 | SMH

Medibank has hit back against claims it  misled and deceived consumers by secretly changing some of its policies, saying it has "always been very clear with members".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing the former government-owned entity in the Federal Court over misleading and deceptive conduct.


Industry superannuation funds go on attack with 'banks aren't super' ad

20 March 2017 | The Guardian

Industry Super Australia has produced a dark advertising campaign that attacks Australia’s major banks, warning workers about the banks’ lobbying efforts in Canberra.

In a 45-second ad, released on Monday, the big banks are portrayed as foxes that are scratching to get into a suburban chicken coop.


Underemployment skyrockets to 1.1 million Australians

19 March 2017 | The Age

Kate Zizys, 46, has been underemployed her entire working life in Australia.

Earning less than $20,000 a year from casual work, she is one of 1.1 million Australians who want more hours of work than they are getting.


Westpac crackdown on foreign buyers and money laundering

19 March 2017 | AFR

Property buyers will be quizzed about their tax residency under new anti-money laundering rules being introduced by Westpac and its subsidiaries' St George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA.




Peter Dutton's attack on CEOs over marriage equality splits Coalition

19 March 2017 | AFR

The same-sex marriage debate inside the government has reignited after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's tirade against business leaders who campaign on social issues rather than tax or industrial relations reform.




Politics at tipping point as one in four voters flee Labor and the Coalition

18 March 2017 | The Age

Australia is poised for widespread political instability as more than one in four voters flee the two-party system, political analysts say.

Disgust and disappointment with major parties is approaching historic levels as Australians follow British and Americans voters and reject new age politics.


Broad agreement, but free trade a bridge too far at G20

18 March 2017 | AFR

The world's leading finance ministers will end two days of talks on Saturday struggling to agree on a final statement amid deep divisions over trade and protectionism in the wake of US President Donald Trump's "America First" plan.



'Bad apple' advisers remain in financial services, ASIC warns

17 March 2017 | AFR

Despite huge efforts to clean up the financial advice sector, the corporate watchdog says that so-called 'bad apple' advisers continue to work for some of Australia's largest financial institutions, with the quality of bank's background checks being called into question. 



Domino's comes under assault from the short sellers

17 March 2017 | AFR

Here's a warning for investors, or any potential buyers, in Australia's largest pizza chain, Domino's Pizza Enterprises: watch out, the short sellers have declared war on the sharemarket darling. It's going down. 

The stock that has delivered investors a total return of 3709 per cent since it listed 12 years ago, compared to a 127 per cent gain in the benchmark S&P ASX 200 index, is tipped to be the next big short.






Republican voters the biggest losers under Trumpcare health bill

15 March 2017 | The Age

Washington: To get to the White House, Donald Trump bulldozed conventional wisdom on how to win an American election, so maybe he can twist enough arms for Congress to accept the political swindle behind his Obamacare makeover.

If he succeeds, this President will surely be remembered as a political genius. But even as the White House hunkers in the face of criticism, its spokesman Sean Spicer indicated on Tuesday that some of the Trumpcare bill might be negotiable.


Work fewer hours and be happier: Greens

15 March 2017 | The Age

Greens leader Richard Di Natale believes some Australians would be better off with a four-day working week or a six-hour working day even if it meant earning less money in some cases.

This would allow people to spend more time on the things that make life worth living, such as family, sport, and volunteering.


Property investors 'materially dependent' on rent face steep rate hike

15 March 2017 | AFR

Property investors who are "materially dependent" on income generated from renting their property face steep increases to interest rates in the coming years, as banks respond to global regulatory changes that will require them to hold higher levels of capital against such loans.



Reserve Bank worried about collapse in apartment prices

14 March 2017 | The Age

The Reserve Bank is considering tighter bank lending standards amid concern about how the financial system would handle a collapse in housing prices, beginning with Brisbane apartments.

The Bank's assistant governor (financial system) Michele Bullock told a business event in Sydney that the Reserve Bank was particularly uneasy about the "looming oversupply of apartments in Brisbane in particular, and possibly in some parts of Melbourne".


South Australia announces $550m energy plan

14 March 2017 | AFR

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill's $550 million energy plan has enraged the federal government which has labelled it confusing and "nonsense" as it seeks legal advice about whether it breaches the rules of the national electricity market.



A Girl Stands Firm on Wall Street

08 March 2017 | The New York Times

There’s currently a bronze statue of a little girl standing in front of the charging bull on Wall Street.

It really does have a great look — all the laws of mass and motion aside, you feel pretty confident the bull is going to wind up backing down. And it reminds you that while marching is important, sometimes you can make a difference by standing still.


Energy crisis: Wholesale power prices have doubled since the carbon tax was axed

08 March 2017 | The Age

A growing crisis in the electricity market has led to wholesale power prices more than doubling in a year - and rising to at least twice what they were under the much-maligned carbon price.

An analysis by the University of Melbourne's Climate and Energy College, produced for the Greens, found the average wholesale electricity price soared to $134 a megawatt hour in the summer just finished, compared with $65-$67 in the two summers the carbon price was in place.


WikiLeaks documents describe CIA spying through Samsung phones and TV sets

07 March 2017 | AFR

WikiLeaks has released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the CIA to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.

If the documents are authentic, as appeared likely at first review, the release would be the latest coup for the anti-secrecy organisation and a serious blow to the CIA, which maintains its own hacking capabilities to be used for espionage.





When will China's speculative iron ore bubble pop?

06 March 2017 | AFR

If you believe the conventional wisdom, investors in Australian resource giants such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto should be able to rest easy this year, confident in the knowledge that Beijing will do whatever it takes to maintain robust Chinese economic growth in this highly sensitive political year.



Federal budget to include housing package: Treasurer Scott Morrison

05 March 2017 | Business Day

"We're working on a package for the budget. It will deal with the challenges in housing affordability from those who are reliant on social housing in our community, all the way through to those who are trying to break in to the first home ownership market," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"We've got to remember that over 30 per cent of Australians actually live in homes that are rented.


Vacant property tax expected to raise $80m in push to increase housing affordability

05 March 2017 | The Age

Owners who leave properties vacant will be slugged with a new tax under a Victorian government push to free up more housing for sale and reduce rents.

The new vacant residential property tax is expected to raise about $80 million over four years, coming into force on January 1.


Australian banks: Time is right for a royal commission

05 March 2017 | The Age

There is a wealth of wisdom in the notion the first thing to do when seeking to exit a hellish hole is stop digging.

However, the custodians of much of the nation's wealth seem intent on unwisely digging themselves ever deeper into a pit of public and parliamentary opprobrium, to the ironic extent that they risk helping bring on the very royal commission they've been seeking to avoid.


Trump’s Legislative Agenda Faces Headwind

02 March 2017 | WSJ

WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump, whose modulated tone in addressing Congress Tuesday drew praise mostly from the GOP, now faces the daunting task of lining up votes for a tax overhaul, a replacement for the Affordable Care Act and other agenda items that have splintered his fellow Republicans.


How long can the show go on as Donald Trump fever grips Wall Street?

01 March 2017 | AFR

US President Donald Trump has once again demonstrated that he is a consummate performer who knows that the trick to keeping audiences spellbound is to leave them wanting more.


Boards must decide between shareholders and stakeholders

01 March 2017 | AFR

When Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev fronted investors and the media last month to announce a $4.9 billion profit, the relief was palpable.



TRUMP: Repealing and replacing Obamacare is 'not a choice -- it is a necessity'

28 February 2017 | BI

President Donald Trump laid out a vision for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Tuesday that appeared to back away from earlier pledges to guarantee insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and leaned on tax credits to ensure Americans can afford their premiums.
Trump outlined the changes in a speech to both houses of Congress, laying out five principles for the replacement of the law better known as Obamacare.


Tensions simmer between government and business over penalty rates

28 February 2017 |

Business groups claim their members could be targeted by union "thuggery" and boycotts if they help the federal government defend last week's decision by the Fair Work Commission to pare back penalty rates for Sundays and public holidays.


Why you should keep a journal (take note, high achievers)

28 February 2017 | AFR

All great minds take notes. But if you can't imagine Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh recording their inspirations on a smartphone or iPad, there's more than one good reason for that.


Economics

Growth momentum is fuelling the global rally, not Trump

05 March 2017 | AFR


How big are the returns for good presidential behaviour? President Donald Trump last week gave a sedate but disciplined speech to Congress that lacked any specific financial commitments. The day after he spoke world markets rejoiced and indices hit all-time records.

 


 

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