A Sniippet of weekly news #9 – June 2020

In this issue, we see several signs of an improving economy. Meanwhile the stock market recovered ground after being spooked by rising COVID-19 numbers in the US and around the world.

We also look at the expected increase in tax refunds from working from home, how to project manage your life, plastic rain, and the first prescription video game. 

The one-minute weekly recap

  • Consumer spending is slowly returning to normal according to credit and debit card data released by ANZ and CBA for the second week in June.
  • Jobs continued to recover in May, with payroll data showing a 1 percent increase through May according to the ABS. Employment in Accommodation and Food services was up 5 percent but remains 29.1 percent lower than mid-March levels.
  • After a reality check late last week and early this week, the ASX 200 rebounded by 4 percent on Tuesday on hopes the Federal Reserve will provide more stimulus in the US 
  • In its Board minutes released on Tuesday, the RBA Board said that while “the Australian economy was experiencing the biggest economic contraction since the 1930s …  it was possible that the downturn would be shallower than earlier expected”.
  • The OECD expects Australia to help lead the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. They recommend that the JobKeeper program continue. 
  • Home listings increased by 46 percent in Sydney over the last four weeks. 22 percent in Melbourne, 37 per cent in Brisbane, 24 percent in Adelaide, and 27 percent in Perth according to latest data. Sellers are returning to the market with increasing confidence

A Sniippet for You

One in five home loan deferral customers in strife

AFR, 16 June

  • In March, Banks offered borrowers a six month holiday on their loan payments
  • 480,727 borrowers took up the offer
  • Around 96,000 are now in financial strife so banks are planning to offer extensions of up to six months

Millions on track for big COVID-19 tax refunds

AFR, 11 June

  • ATO expects an increase in tax refunds because of more people working from home
  • Under a new simplified system, people working from home can claim 80¢ for each hour they’ve worked from home
  • The total amount should be claimed in the “other work-related expenses” question in the tax return submission

Workers want a ban on office handshakes and hugs

AFR, 11 June

  • Half of workers want handshakes and hugs banned at the office
  • Nine in 10 think they should be allowed to work from home if they feel unsafe
  • 59 percent of people currently feel uncomfortable using public transport

The 15 coding languages with the most pay, and how to learn them free

AFR, 27 April

  • Perl has the highest average global salary ($US84,025) followed by Scala (US77,159), and GO ($US72,691)
  • Perl is used for prototyping, large scale projects, text manipulation, system administration, web development, network programming, and more
  • HackerRank compiled the data from 116,000 software engineers

Australian company H2X to manufacture hydrogen vehicles in NSW

ABC, 15 June

  • The company has developed prototype hydrogen powered cars and tractors
  • Production will begin in 2021 before being ramped up in 2022
  • It is expected to create around 5,000 direct jobs in the Illawarra region

Plastic Rain Is the New Acid Rain

Wired, 11 June

  • Microplastics are blowing all over the world, landing in supposedly untouched areas
  • Researchers found that 1,000 metric tons of microplastic particles fall into 11 US national parks each year. That’s the same as 120 million plastic water bottles.
  • Research into the effects of microplastics on health, soil and the ocean are only beginning

A Sniippet of Finance advice

The Basics of FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early)

Lifehacker, October 2019

  • FIRE is a growing movement in the USA with adherents in Australia too
  • The idea is to live simply, save as much as possible, and invest in low cost passive income investments like index funds
  • Retirement means financial flexibility: you earn enough passive income so that money does not dictate your decisions. For example, you work for love not money.  

A Sniippet of Brain food

Project manage your life

Harvard Business Review

  • Project management frameworks like Agile, Scrum, and Kanban can be applied to our families and personal lives. 
  •  The goal is to improve communication so you can streamline tasks, and reach collective goals more quickly. 
  • Kids love a physical Kanban board
  • Simple PM tools can make a big difference
  • It’s more important to learn good habits than it is to learn to use a tool

A Sniippet of Trivia

The FDA just approved the first prescription video game — it’s for kids with ADHD

The Verge, 15 June

  • EndeavorRX is the first game that can be sold as medicine in the US
  • The game is for 8 to 12 years old with ADHD
  • One-third of kids treated “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention” after playing the game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks

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