Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Journal of Farcical Exuberance has moved!

The Journal of Farcical Exuberance has now moved to a more readily accessible sitehttp://farcicalx.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kevin Rudd has lost the plot

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has blasted the Howard-Costello government, saying that the Coalition had been "indolent" and could not claim to be partners with Labor in Australia's economic reforms of the past 30 years.
"The Liberals' failure to advance a framework for increasing national productivity is not a minor blemish on their economic record, it reflects a fundamental failure of long-term economic reform and casts legitimate doubt over the extent to which the Liberal Party can be regarded as partners with Labor in the great project of economic modernisation."
Even social reforms that "endured through long periods of Liberal rule" survived, according to the Prime Minister, only because of political expediency and not because of any genuine support or belief. 
This is what the Bachelor of Art (BA) holders do, they push the boundaries of history, are selective in their memory. Perhaps instead of criticizing his predecessor Coalition government of being "indolent", Mr Rudd should take some initiative and creativeness in formulating policies to bring the Australian economy out of recession. Mr Rudd was quick to claim that it was the government's stimulus package that delivered Australia with the highest GDP growth in the developed world, notwithstanding that his government inherited an strong Australian economy in surplus. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) recently embarrassed Kevin Rudd by ruling that more than 8000 signs being erected outside publicly funded school building projects are political advertisements. This was a part of the same stimulus package that purportedly delivered Australia with positive GDP growth; it is quite shocking that this money was actually being used for political advertisements to further promote Mr Rudd.
Indolence is the pumping of huge sums of money into the Australian economy, without considering the long-term consequences of those actions. I wrote previously about the excessively large Australian stimulus package which is estimated will sink the Australian economy into 6 years of deficit. Mr Rudd has consistently talked the talk regarding his government's stimulus package and what a great thing it has been for Australia, yet when posed with questions regarding a double-dip recession in Australia, Mr Rudd was tight lipped. What happened to his great economic stimulus package which delivered 0.6 GDP growth in the last quarter? 
Mr Rudd's comments about the Howard-Costello government were unacceptable and as John Howard said in reply, Mr Rudd has taken political mendacity to a whole new level. "His analysis of the economic reform process in Australia since 1980 was partisan, inaccurate and lacked any semblance of objectivity," Mr Howard wrote. Malcolm Turnbull described Mr Rudd's speech was "the most graceless" address he had ever heard. 
"It was extraordinary, it was as though he had erased every part of Australian history that didn't feature the Labor Party. It was like listening to a speech by a communist party general secretary extolling the virtues of the dictatorship of the proletariat at some rally."
Mr Turnbull had earlier described Mr Rudd's approach as Orwellian and "breathtaking in the audacity of its dishonesty". He told colleagues Mr Rudd had moved from spin into "a completely different territory" in which he was spreading "absolute falsehoods" as a political technique. And as all great politicians do, Mr Turnbull attributed Australia's current relative economic strength compared to other advanced nations to economic reforms put in place by the Howard government. Perhaps kRudd has merely forgotten about the Coalition's GST introduced by Mr Howard in 2000.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Conspiracy Theory: London 7/7 Bombings continued

The first section of this 7/7 Bombings conspiracy pertained to particular events and incongruities which had indicated that the truth had been withheld from the general public. These events included evidence which showed that there were no backpack home-made bombs or Muslim bombers inside the tube-train carriages that blew up, and that the floors blew upwards, so the bombs, which were made from military high-grade explosives, must have been fastened underneath the floors of the train carriages. Only people having access to the tube-trains, during the times that the trains were not running, would be able to plant those bombs, under the train floors. In this section, we explore two parties to which 'the truth campaign' has laid blame upon.


Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Finance Minister, has stated publicly that he was warned by Scotland Yard not to leave his hotel room on the morning of the bombings. The implications from such a statement are that Scotland Yard had knowledge of the plan. Scotland Yard has denied these allegations (of course) which really begs the question as to who did warn the Israeli Finance Minister. Some people speculate that Israeli Mossad who had warned Netanyahu, and indeed two weeks later, the head of the Mossad, General Meir Dagan stated that he had warned Benjamin Netanyahu ten minutes before the first explosion. 
These facts raise numerous questions, the most pertinent one would relate to how the Israeli Mossad and Scotland Yard knew of these plans, and if they had the knowledge, why the British people were not warned. Was this a joint operation between Scotland Yard and the Mossad to gather support for the war on terrorism? If so, it is unconscionable that anybody, would authorise the taking of innocent lives to further a cause. It is more shocking that the blame be laid on four Muslim men, to harness support for a war against two Muslim countries. That is genocide.  
More evidence that the 7/7 bombings were foreseen come from a more unlikely source; the stock market. Jérôme Kerviel (pictured above), is more famous for his misappropriation and fradulent trading when working for Société Générale, which resulted in an approximate loss of  €5 billion and plunging the 144-year-old French financial institution into crisis. 
Curiously, Mr Kerviel had made bets that the market would crash (i.e. short selling) prior to 7/7. He struck the jackpot when the attacks eventuated and registered an approximate profit of €500,000. This brought him “orgasmic pleasure”. Furthermore, according to Mr Kerviel, the best trading day in the history of Société Générale fell on 9/11.
“The best trading day in the history of Société Générale was September 11, 2001 ... [a]t least, that’s what one of my managers told me. It seems that profits were colossal that day. I had a similar experience during the London attacks in July 2005.” 
A few days earlier he had bet on a fall in the share price of Allianz, the German insurance giant, he told Le Parisien. Everyone was losing money when the 7/7 bombings sent the insurance sector into a downward spiral “except for me”, he said. “Thanks to the positions I had, I earned €500,000 in a few minutes. It was the jackpot. I was jubilant.” After the celebrations Mr Kerviel said he paused for thought. “I understood that I was having fun when people had just been hit by the bombs. I ran to the toilet and I was sick. But the moment of weakness did not last long. I went back into the trading room and I returned to work.” 
These events follow the questions raised regarding massive trades that foreshadowed the events of 9/11, with put options placed in large quantities against American and United Airliners in the days immediately prior to the attacks. The investigation as to who was responsible for authorizing the transactions led directly back to former CIA director Buzzy Krongard. In the case of the London bombings, the British Pound fell 6 percent against the Greenback for no apparent reason in the days before the attack. Currencies of established countries simply do not fall that fast based upon any kind of economic or financial analysis," said a 35 year veteran economist. Somebody – somewhere – knew something. Or maybe I should say ’somebodies.
Coincidence or pre-empted trades?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Conspiracy theory: London 7/7 bombings

The presumption of innocence grants an accused in a criminal trial the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Presumably, if someone is deceased, then it would be up to one's estate to enforce this presumption against would be accusers. At the same time, it appears futile for legal resources to be wasted prosecuting someone who has already deceased. Conveniently, and perhaps coincidentally, this is the position regarding the four persons who supposedly carried out the suicide bombings of London's train networks. Proponents of the July 7th Truth Campaign have disputed many facts pertaining to these alleged suicide bombings.
According to the BBC, four suicide bombers struck in central London on Thursday 7 July, killing 52 people and injuring more than 770. The events can be summaried as follows:
  • At 0850 BST a bomb exploded on Piccadilly line train number 331 travelling south from King's Cross station to Russell Square;
  • At 0850 a bomb exploded on Circle line train number 204 travelling east from Liverpool Street station to Aldgate; 
  • At 0850 a bomb exploded on Circle line train number 216, which had just left Edgware Road station heading west for Paddington; and
  • At 0947 a blast tore through a number 30 double-decker bus at the junction of Tavistock Square and Upper Woburn place.
All four bombers are pictured below. The bombers have been identified as:
  • Mohammad Sidique Khan;
  • Shehzad Tanweer;
  • Germaine Lindsay; and
  • Hasib Hussain.
This picture has also been a source of controversy. There have been claims that the circled person was 'photoshopped' into the picture. In particular, 7/7 Ripple Effect has disputed many facts of the official accounts of the 7/7 London Bombings. The narrator, one Muad'Dib has been identified as a John Hill who was extradited to the UK on charges of perverting the course of justice (for sending 7/7 Ripple Effect DVDs to the judge and jury in trials linked to the 7/7 attacks. Muad'Dib claims, amongst other things, that the British Metropolitan Police were the masterminds of these bombings, supposedly based on a number of missing pieces of evidence. This includes a lack of CCTV footage in areas where the bombers were supposed to be. He uses this, amongst other things, to support the claim that the four bombers were 'tricked' into travelling to London where they were actually murdered.and accordingly, they did not die as suicide bombers. 
Eyewitness accounts state that the nature of the train explosions were consistent with bombs placed below the train as opposed to bombs detonated by suicide bombers. The image above shows evidence contradicting the government's story that backpack bombs were responsible for the bombings. According to witnesses, "tiles, the covers on the floor of the train, suddenly flew up, raised up".
Lait, a victim of the Aldgate Station bombing, described to the Cambridge Evening News how he and his partner were sitting nearest to the bomb when it detonated. According to Lait,
"We'd been on there for a minute at most and then something happened. It was like a huge electricity surge which knocked us out and burst our eardrums. I can still hear that sound now ... He and Crystal were helped out of the carriage. As they made their way out, a policeman pointed out where the bomb had been ... The policeman said 'mind that hole, that's where the bomb was'. The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train. They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag." 
Further inconsistent evidence pertaining to the UK Government's account of the bombings are found in the mysterious case of the non-existent train time. At a Metropolitan Police press conference in the days after July 7th, it was announced that the alleged bombers caught the 7.40am Thameslink train from Luton to King's Cross. This 'fact' was also confirmed in the official Government narrative of events. However, official Thameslink reports indicate that the 7.40am train was cancelled, forcing the Home Secretary John Reid to concede that this portion of the Official Report was inaccurate.
More to follow ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Australian economy grew by 0.6 percent; Australia avoids recession again

GDP figures released today showed that the Australian economy grew 0.6 percent in the three months to June. This compared with analyst forecasts of 0.2 percent downgraded after some gloomy figures earlier this week showed a slump in company profits and inventories and a drop in exports. The labor government, of course, claimed that this bullish performance is attributable to its implementation of monetary stimulus.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said, "Today's national accounts paint a picture of a still weak but very resilient Australian economy ... The government's stimulus is working to support jobs, build confidence, and invest in infrastructure for the future, but the job is clearly still not over. The government's economic stimulus is still needed to support activity and jobs. However the prospect of a gradual pick up in private sector activity will allow the staged withdrawal of the stimulus to proceed from the December quarter this year, as foreshadowed in the 2009/10 budget."
Yes, clearly the job is not over, the ASX-200 traded 100 points lower despite the bullish economic figures. Prior to the release of GDP figures, the Australian Dollar was heavily sold against the US Dollar during the London and US session, dropping from 0.8450 to the 0.8250 level, following a cautious RBA statement yesterday.
The first stimulus package consisted of a $10.4 billion payment to pensioners, families and carers, and a boost to the first homebuyers grant. The second package consisted of a $42 billion to provide funding for a range of infrastructure and nation building projects including:
  • $14.7 billion for schools; and
  • $12.7 billion in tax bonuses and one-off payments; and
  • $6.6 billion for new housing projects; and
  • $3.9 billion to provide free roof insulation; and
  • $890 million to fix regional roads and blackspots, and for regional and local government infrastructure.
This included the $950 cash hand outs, which probably did a better job in buying votes for the Labor party than it did to stimulate the economy. Many recipients of the payment simply used the free cash to pay down their loans or credit card debts. Nevertheless, this $950 was supposed to protect Australian jobs and to stimulate the economy. The $3.9 billion appropriated for the provision of free roof insulation was supposed to save the construction industry. However the industry would probably have simply cashed in on the stimulus by charging higher prices.

Criticism aside, the question pertaining to how the government is going to fund its stimulus package remains. The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the new alcohol and tobacco tax are two schemes that come to mind. Of course, these schemes are, in principle, supposed to save the environment and save our youths from binge drinking and smoking themselves to death. It also carries the added benefit of paying down the large budget spending authorised by the government. The recommended 17.5c a cigarette excise hike stands to boost the Treasury bank accounts by $2 billion annually.

It is great to see our government is finally considering ways of repaying its 'rushed' stimulus package, but maybe what we simply need is a Liberal government who can drive our economy back into surplus territory.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Support for Liberals leader Malcolm Turnbull rises

The most recent Newspoll survey conducted for The Australian showed that satisfaction with the opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has risen by a whopping 4 percentage points to 30 percent! Mr Turnbull's rating as preferred prime minister was up two percentage points at 19 percent, a long way off Kevin Rudd's 66 percent. Of course the accuracy of the Newspoll was impugned by Labor accusations that Mr Turnbull once wanted to join the Labor party, these accusations were made in the lead up to the Newspoll survey.
Mr Turnbull, of course, refuted these claims, saying that it was actually the Labor party who approached him. Qualification wise, Mr Turnbull has got it all. He graduated from Sydney University with a Law/Arts degree and subsequently won the Rhodes Scholarship, which took him to Oxford to complete his Bachelor of Civil Law, the most prestigious and academically demanding postgraduate law degree in the world.  Upon entering the workforce, he served as General Counsel to Australian Consolidated Press Holdings and subsequently became the Chair and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Australia. With these sorts of qualifications, I imagine that many institutions would be headhunting Mr Turnbull (including the Australian Labor Party).
Nevertheless, there will be people who argue that academic and work qualifications are irrelevant to one's performance as the leader of a nation. History, however, begs to differ. The first Prime Minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, was a lawyer by profession and also a Justice of the High Court of Australia. Amongst other things, Barton was a devout supporter of federalism and played a part in the eventual drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution.  Alfred Deakin, Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and John Howard are some examples of previous Prime Ministers who were also lawyers by profession. This is not to say that one must be a lawyer by profession to be a good Prime Minister, but history suggests that lawyers have the right skillset to become successful Prime Ministers. Even the front bench of the two major parties are mainly occupied by lawyers.
The most notable exception is Kevin Rudd. Modern day lawyers often place a big emphasis on the use of 'plain english'. This is clearly a notion that Kevin Rudd is not familiar with, who sent German translators into ein schpinn during a press conference with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the Major Economies Forum (MEF) was unlikely to deliver much by way of "detailed programmatic specificity" on climate change. I imagine he could simply have said nothing definitive would emerge from the MEF on climate change.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Schapelle Schapelle Schapelle

The Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Financial Economics are considered to be the three most prestigious finance journals in the world. The Journal of Farcical Exuberance, as the title suggests, is a play on the Journal of Financial Economics (JFE as it is commonly abbreviated). We live in a strange world. There is poverty in Africa, a war against terrorism and the swine flu epidemic. But of course there are more pressing issues; Michael Jackson's death, Schapelle Corby's purported "clinical insanity" are some examples. It's all a bit farcical; we evince 'excessive exuberance' towards the more trivial issues, yet dismiss the issues that should prima facie be given more attention.

The Schapelle Corby saga is a recent example. It must be those green eyes. The Indonesian government granted her a four month jail sentence remission as part of their Independence Day celebrations, some people would suggest that Schapelle would be thankful for the act of generosity afforded to her. On the contrary, she is now purportedly in a 'child-like' state and is 'clinically insane'. This apparently warrants the Australian Federal Government's intervention. What about the other prisoners at Bali's Kerobokan prison? This should offend all Indonesians for at least two reasons. Firstly, it evinces a belief that Indonesia lacks the medical expertise to assist with Schapelle's mental health and secondly, that this is an issue of grave importance and thus Australia and Indonesia should reach an agreement immediately.

Perhaps this is another publicity stunt, after all, the yearning for publicity appears to run in the family. Schapelle's sister, Mercedes Corby, recently said, "[t]his is about basic humanity. It's a matter of life and death. I'm begging Mr Rudd and anybody else who has the power to help - please bring Schapelle home so she can get well again." This comes from the same person who received a multi-million dollar defamation pay-out from Channel Seven and who also stripped down for RALPH magazine (for money, and perhaps publicity). 

I do wonder what impact, if any, the Global Financial Crisis has had on the Corby family.  They should be fairly comfortable financially, after numerous media appearances and recent legal pay-outs. But the Corby family never turns down an opportunity to cash in on their opinion. In fact, in a show of appreciation for the four month remission granted by the Indonesian Government, Mercedes Corby seized the opportunity to emphasize the need to bring Schapelle home. As an act of family solidarity, Schapelle has also continued to cut herself in defiance. This has created reports that "[s]he is in a situation where she could easily move forward to kill herself" (as Associate Professor Jonathan Phillips describes Schapelle's condition). Schapelle's condition has evidently deteriorated from the laughing and joyous person Schapelle was one year ago when she went shopping with her family where she bought clothes and ice cream. At that time, July 2008, it was reported that Schapelle was "doing better" and was on the road to recovery. How things have changed since then.

It is unfortunate that the Schapelle saga has continued to drag on, but there comes a point where enough is enough. Schapelle has brought this upon herself by conducting illegal drug trafficking into a country where it is punishable by the death sentence. Her family has cashed in on Schapelle's predicament and in the process pocketed millions of dollars and finally, Schapelle is not the only woman imprisoned  at Bali's Kerobokan prison. She is hardly in a position to complain given that there are at least another 50 women living in the same jail centre. It is time that Schapelle and her family accepted that she is bound by Indonesian laws and accordingly, accept the consequences of her actions. The time for publicity stunts has passed.

As John Howard put it, "I feel for her. I understand why there's a lot of public sympathy for her; I would simply say that I hope justice is done and it's a fair and true verdict ... I would ask the rhetorical question: My fellow Australians, if a foreigner were to come to Australia and a foreign government were to start telling us how we should handle [it], we would react very angrily to that." The Corby family should respect Indonesian law; a few appearances on A Current Affair and RALPH magazine, or a few slashes and cuts to Schapelle's wrist are not appropriate and on the contrary, insulting to Indonesia's sovereignty. Who knows, if Schapelle is on her best behaviour for the next year, Indonesia's 2010 Independence Day celebrations may bring greater remissions to her jail sentence. 

One can only wonder how this saga will continue to unfold, but for now, we can only hope that Stern Hu does not start wearing green coloured contact lenses and slashing his wrist.