Monday, December 12, 2011

Paul Sheehan, Sydney airport, and the wonders of serendipity ...

(Above: more Nicholson here).

Life is full of serendipity.

There was the pond amazed to discover that the Coodabeen Champions are still live on ABC Local on a Saturday night, and yammering on about the eclipse of the moon and sundry musical matters.

When the pond last heard them, they were on 3RRR, or perhaps lost on the Titanic, and seemed peculiarly Victorian, babbling on about the AFL, but in this iteration, they seem to be banned from the Mexicans south of the border ...

I note this only to prove that the pond was fully comatose on Saturday night at 11 pm, when the news kicked in, and then six planes proceeded to break the curfew at Sydney airport, on the shoulder conveniently defined to mean a curfew isn't really a curfew, just like withdrawal - for all the Catholic church's stupidities - isn't a form of contraception.

Then came the richest revenge fantasy of all. Realising they'd been sprung by this devastating pond revelation, the highest levels of government swung into action to save Anthony Albanese's seat, the man who put 'no' into the 'noalition'.

Aware that brooding members of the latte sipping inner western elite were simmering, understanding Why Sydney will still 'die without a second jet airport, Minister Albanese's response was fast, decisive and far-sighted.

Someone had reminded him of the transcript of his press conference Sydney needs a second airport, when he blathered on about the urgent need for a new airport, commissioned a report, and promised all sorts of things by year's end. Now it looks like Santa will drop the report down the chimney just in time to make the slowest news day of the year ...

At that point the rich revenge fantasy evaporated. Second airport? Tell 'em they're dreaming, it's business as usual, and no one cares about this parochial hill of beans. Unless, unless, the Couldabeens become crusaders for justice, invite Albo on, and mug him about the airport ...

Speaking of rich fantasy lives, that's a natural segue to Paul Sheehan, who this morning had a thought bubble in Four pillars bashed but holding firm:

The resemblance of Sheehan's thought bubble to a soap bubble is quite profound, if a trifle unsettling.

He spends the first half of his piece, explaining how he'd been ripped off by Westpac, in the matter of fees and capital:

Westpac has destroyed value and repeatedly avoided providing any explanation of how it invested the money. The loan generates payments to us from the bank but these merely offset the cost of capital. Where is the capital gain, the point of the exercise?

After being diddled by one of the big four by this financial instrument - think of it as a kind of banker's dildo - Sheehan then spends the rest of his column praising the big four banks and their money-grubbing, grabbing ways.

If reviewed by a psychiatrist, it might be held up as either a classic example of schizophrenia, or perhaps most likely, an antipodean case of Stockholm syndrome.

Sheehan now has so much commentariat capital invested in the total collapse, financial ruin, and utter fiscal devastation of Europe, that likely enough he will be totally devastated if Europe manages to dodder on, limping forward like a zombie, as it's managed through the hundred years war, the Napoleonic wars and a couple of world wars ... (and that's just a few of the highlights of regular military, fiscal and imperial follies).

Yes, it turns out that Sheehan is profoundly grateful for the oligopoly banking situation down under, trusts the bankers, and believes everything they say and do, seeing as how the profits - a mere $24 billion - are just and reasonable, while Europe bickers, argy bargies and tumbles.

Suddenly, Australia's banks don't look so greedy after all. They look steady. They look like ports in a storm.

Oh dear. And I suppose Woolies and Coles are solid supermarket citizens. But here's the bizarre thing. After explaining how a representative of Westpac persuaded him into a money losing dodgy loan against his house, Sheehan scribbles this:

Australia had not taken the road of excessive debt and deficit.

Except it seems the house of Sheehan ...

By this point in the column, we're nicely pumped and primed for a bit of uxoriousness about the banking system, which seems as upright as T. S. Eliot, when he's not writing poems about cats:

Thus the reflexive calls for our banks to pass on the Reserve Bank's interest rate cuts, in full, are now double-edged. Every move to relieve borrowers with lower interest costs is offset by the cost to the legion of savers, including superannuation funds, who rely on interest-bearing deposits for income.

This reinforces the notion that uxoriousness should be reserved by husbands for their wives.

With a growing squeeze in the offshore market for cash, our banks will need to raise more capital onshore. In this context, a healthy bank is far preferable than a stressed bank. They may need their fat for harder times.

No they won't. They'll just head off to government like they did last time, with their paws outstretched as they plead their gruel is a little low and they need gruel security.

Was it only in October 2008 that former chairman Rudd offered up a $700 billion bank guarantee? Don't blink, that was a $600-700 billion guarantee.

The deposit and lending guarantees are unprecedented in Australian banking history and are an immediate response to the dramatic moves by other countries to prop up their failing financial systems.

Another $4 billion is also being injected for non-bank institutions to provide more funds for housing and extra competition to the big banks.

A particular beneficiary was Macquarie bank, then going through a hard time, as you can remember by reverting to Macquarie: swimming in Rudd's largesse.

And here's the ultimate bit of serendipity. It is of course Macquarie that owns Sydney airport, via a subsidiary, which has been busy stonewalling a second airport, charging a fortune for parking, screwing ill-organised taxis, failing to manage traffic flows, and announcing grand plans to fix everything by juggling the place into two airline-alliance based precincts ...

But one thing becomes clear. That's why a sheep like Sheehan, who reveals he's been fleeced, can still sing the song four banks good, giving interest rates cuts to punters baaad ...

So long as there are sheep to sing this song, the big banks, in their cosy oligopoly, will go on making out like bandits, waving the big stick of the European bogeyman - way better even than a blue heeler - to keep any wayward punters in line ...

Oh and the curfew will keep being broken, but don't worry about that. Worry about the way the commentariat always lines up to sing the bankers' blues ...

UPDATE: as noted by one of the commenters, here's one for grammar pedants:

"I have never met Gail Kelly and, as the most senior woman business executive in Australia, I can see her value as a role model."

That opening paragraph had me thinking that Paul was the most senior woman business executive in Australia.

Well played Perry.

(Below: but at least the Europeans retain their sense of humour, as a sharp wind blows in from Moodys).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.