Blog Post

A Sniippet of weekly news #17 – Aug 2020

Australian financial news is again dominated by the lockdown in Victoria and its impact on the Australian economy.

We also look at cancelled holidays and the pandemic’s impact on travel agents.

However, not everyone is doing it tough, with a 25 year-old YouTube gamer buying a $9m beach house in Sydney.

In other good news, scientists have come up with a blood test for Alzheimer’s which should allow for detection many years before symptoms kick in. 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Supermarkets head off food shortages in Victoria (AFR, 6 Aug)

  • Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has agreed to allow supermarket retailers to reduce staff levels in other parts of their businesses so as to avoid reductions in their distribution centres
  • There has been a 20 percent increase in demand from consumers fearing stock shortages
  • There’s no shortage of product, but the disruption of the supply chain could lead to some shortage of products at the supermarket level

Government will ease JobKeeper criteria, adding $15 billion to the coronavirus recovery scheme (ABC, 6 August)

  • Businesses will now only need to show GST turnover has fallen over one quarter, instead of multiple, to be eligible for the scheme’s extension
  • Workers will also qualify if they were already employed on 1 Jul, rather than on the previous 1 March
  • About 530,000 extra Victorian employees will now join the JobKeeper program over the September quarter

Superannuation early withdrawal won’t hurt retirement for most workers, argues Grattan (ABC, 7 Aug)

  • The typical worker would see a fall in their retirement income of just over 1 percent if they took out the full $20,000 allowed under the early super release
  • Much of the fall in super income for middle-income earners will be made-up with increased pension payments
  • For the very poor and very rich, a loss in future super income will not be made up by larger pension payments: the poor were already relying on the pension while the rich are not going to get any pension payments

The 25-year-old YouTuber who just bought a $9m home in Sydney (Domain, 7 Aug)

  • Watkins was a former intern at Gilbert+Tobin in 2014 when he dropped out of law to pursue a career in gaming
  • In 2017 he co-founded a talent agency for gamers, influencers and eSports players called Click Management and in the past month alone has averaged 53.65 million views ranking him eighth among Australia’s top YouTubers 

Australia experiencing critical shortage of antidepressants, contraceptives and HRT (The Guardian, 8 Aug)

  • Australia is experiencing a critical shortage of key drugs including antidepressants, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies
  • The shortages are generally unrelated to the pandemic
  • Big Pharma is difficult to hold to account
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration has authorised the import of products but these drugs cannot be subsidised under the PBS

Australians have cancelled holidays worth an estimated $10 billion, leaving travel agents decimated (ABC, 10 Aug)

  • Consumer bodies have received thousands of complaints
  • Travel agents are dealing with millions of cancelled booking and it could take 12 months to deal with them all
  • Without government support, 3,000 travel agents could go bust by Christmas resulting in 20,000 job losses

Breakthrough new blood test could diagnose Alzheimer’s decades earlier (ABC, 4 Aug)

  • Researchers have developed a new blood test which can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with 96 percent accuracy
  • Doctors hope the test could allow for diagnosis before symptoms appear
  • The test could also speed up the search for treatment of the disease

Beirut explosion raises fresh concern about Newcastle’s much larger ammonium nitrate stockpile (ABC, 5 Aug)

  • Orica’s ammonium nitrate production and storage facility in Newcastle is four times larger than the stockpile that detonated in Beirut
  • The Orica facility is only three kilometres from Newcastle’s CBD and only 800 metres from North Stockton residents
  • The factory has has a controversial history in Newcastle, after a leak of carcinogenic chemical hexavalent chromium in the air over Stockton in 2011

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Three tips on handling SMSF assets if your relationship breaks down (AFR, 6 Aug)

  • A couple’s shared SMSF is one of the many assets that are considered “property” in a divorce
  • The two parties cannot informally decide to split up a SMSF, it requires a binding “Superannuation Agreement” or a court order
  • Get an accountant involved to make sure the split is fair in the broadest sense e.g. taking into capital gains tax for any sale of super assets made

A Sniippet of Brain food

Landmark study on 11,196 couples pinpoints what dating apps get so wrong (Inverse)

  • The person we choose is not nearly as important as the relationship we build
  • The most powerful predictors of relationship quality are the characteristics of the relationship itself
  • The shared norms, the in-jokes, the shared experiences are more important than the separate individuals who make up that relationship

A Sniippet of Trivia

The new space race (ABC, 10 Aug)

  • In the last five years,  almost a quarter of all objects ever sent into space have been launched
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX is scheduled to launch another 57 of its micro-satellites into space as part of its Starlink internet service
  • More than 70 percent of all 2,600 active satellites are in Low Earth Orbit
  • There are forecasts that by 2030, as many as 57,000 new satellites could be jostling for an orbital position

A Sniippet of weekly news #16 – Aug 2020

As coronavirus cases increase in Victoria, the state has gone into full lock-down. Other states are scrambling.

Aged care homes have been particularly hard hit and the federal government has sent in emergency health teams to help.

On the lighter side, we look at electric cars in Australia, plant-based meat in supermarkets, and 5G conspiracies.

We also look at chefs to former dictators – giving a new definition to “your last meal”.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Electric cars have few downsides except price (The Guardian, 30 July)

  • Electric cars are easier to maintain and will have longer life-spans than petrol cars
  • 100 percent torque with zero RPM
  • Out of the 19.9m cars on Australian roads in 2020, only 14,253 are electric
  • There are very few second-hand electric cars available, and Australia has become dumping ground for second-hand petrol cars
  • A new company in Tasmania is trying to bulk import electric cars

Federal rescue teams sent to Victorian aged homes (AFR, 28 July)

  • Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) have been sent to Victoria to help aged care homes
  • Over 170 elderly patients have been moved to hospitals
  • “Some of the stories we’ve seen are unacceptable and I wouldn’t want my mum in some of those places.” Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Before you buy a holiday property in Queensland, read this (AFR, 31 July)

  • QLD developers sell off building management rights with apartment owners having no say – illegal in NSW
  • Caretakers can also sell their management contracts for a building, with apartment owners still having no say
  •  Management companies recoup the contract purchase price in fees

Home listings jump in July as vendors rush to sell (AFR, 4 Aug )

  • Listings jumped 40.8 percent in Canberra, 34.2 percent in Hobart, 21.6 percent in Sydney, 15.7 percent in Brisbane, and 10.3 percent in Melbourne
  • The increase is unusual for this time of year
  • The large rise in Sydney and Melbourne’s listings over the past 12 months shows that the markets are deteriorating

Recessions are awful for young people – but things were already bad for Australians under 35 (The Guardian, 2 August)

  • Since the GFC the average labour income of those under 25 has fallen by 14 percent in real terms because of a fall in hours worked and little wage increases
  • 25-34 year-olds with bachelor degrees are substantially worse off in 2018 than in 2001
  • Only 36 percent of twenty-somethings have a full-time job

V2food’s plant-based meat is heading to supermarkets (AFR, 4 Aug)

  • Plant-based v2mince and v2burgers will be positioned in the meat aisles at Drakes outlets and had been priced so they weren’t any more expensive than actual meat
  • V2food is a joint venture between CSIRO and Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods (owner of Hungry Jacks)
  •  Research by YouGov found that 49 percent of Australians want to cut down their meat consumption for health or sustainability reasons

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to Know If You’ve Been Hacked, and What to Do About It (Wired, 19 July)

  • The clearest sign that you’ve been hacked is when something has changed e.g. you can’t login with your usual username and password
  •  Get in touch with the company that owns your account; they have policies covering hacked accounts
  • As well as a password manager, multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be turned on for as many sites and services as possible

A Sniippet of Brain food

What is the truth about 5G? (ABC Four Corners, 3 August)

  • Full 5G (millimetre wave) promises data speeds more than 100 times faster than 4G and with less latency
  • People are concerned about 5G’s radiofrequency radiation but it is similar levels to TV, microwaves, radio, and 4G
  • 5G waves don’t travel as far as 4G and will require more antennas 
  • The first suggestion of a link between coronavirus and 5G was from an anonymous account that regularly posts pro-Russian government content on 19 January

A Sniippet of Trivia

Cooking for dictators — chilling stories from the chefs of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein (ABC, 29 July)

  • Fidel Castro’s passion for dairy products verged on addiction. He had a daily milkshake and once had 18 scoops of ice cream after a meal
  • Saddam Hussein once emptied a bottle of Tabasco sauce into his chef’s kofta mix as a joke. When guests ate the koftas, they thought Saddam was trying to poison them.
  • Many of the chefs have never recovered from the trauma of working for someone who could have had them killed at any moment

A Sniippet of weekly news #15 – July 2020

While coronavirus numbers continue to grow in Victoria and Queensland shuts the borders to Sydney, a survey by the ABS finds Australians are split on when life will return to normal. Meanwhile Bunnings has been dealing with customers who refuse to wear masks – the new normal.

On the good news front, the government has extended early access to super and electricity prices are down. 

We also look at how poker provides lessons for investing, and sharks.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Australians split on when life will return to normal (ABS, 28 July)

  • Just over 50 percent of Australian believe that life will return to normal in 6 months; 18 percent believe it will take a year
  • 9 percent do not believe their pre-pandemic lives will ever return
  • 60 percent considered their mental health to be excellent or very good
  • 29 percent would like to continue spending more time with family and friends after restrictions are lifted
  • 28 percent do not want to continue any restriction inspired behaviour once restrictions lift

Bunnings beefs up security against anti-maskers (AFR, 27 July)

  • Bunnings has beefed up security and says it will call the police on customers who refuse to wear masks at its stores in coronavirus lockdown zones in Victoria
  • Mobile phone footage of a woman refusing to wear a mask and confronting Bunnings staff at a store in Melbourne’s south-east on Sunday has gone viral
  • Victorian police have the power to arrest people who choose not to wear face coverings and subsequently fail to comply with a police directive to provide proof of identity

 Electricity prices plunge to lowest in five years (AFR, 22 July)

  • Wholesale electricity prices traded at the lowest in five years as commercial demand has fallen during the pandemic
  • Wholesale prices make up about one-third of residential electricity bills
  • Wholesale prices could fall another 20 percent over the next two years

‘A national crisis’: 16,000 Australian community sport clubs face collapse in wake of Covid-19 (The Guardian, 22 July)

  • 25 percent of local sports clubs are at risk of folding if financing is not found soon
  • An estimated $1.6bn has already been lost by local clubs since the pandemic hit
  • Clubs need $1.2bn to survive pandemic
  • ““These clubs are about more than the sport itself – they are the lifeblood of communities all over Australia.”

Australia’s biggest workers compensation system faces looming financial disaster (ABC, 27 July)

  • Australia’s two largest workers compensation schemes are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year
  • The Victorian ombudsman describes the behaviour of some insurers as “downright immoral and unethical.”
  • According to NSW Treasury documents icare has underpaid approximately 52,000 people around $80 million

A Sniippet of Finance advice

What poker can teach you about investing (Bloomberg, 24 July)

  • A doctor in psychology became a professional poker player to better understand research on risk.
  • You need to lose to get better. Winning blinds you while losing forces you to learn
  • You need to remain objective when you lose
  • Focus on the process not the outcome
  • Know why you make your decisions

A Sniippet of Brain food

How to exercise your judgement during a pandemic (London Business School)

  • Good judgement is the ability to combine personal qualities with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and take decisions
  • It means taking decisions in the right way at the right time – a bad decision is better than not taking a decision
  • Do you have enough information and do you understand the information?
  • Use a rolling plan not fixed forecasts
  • Since right now most leaders don’t have the data they need or enough experience of pandemics, this is probably not a great time to trust your gut.

A Sniippet of Trivia

Australia among the countries with the most sharks but sharks are now “extinct” in some countries (The Guardian, 23 July)

  • Worldwide study finds Australia among nations with highest shark numbers
  • Sharks are functionally extinct in 20 percent of reefs surveyed
  • Destructive and unsustainable fishing has caused a crash in shark numbers across many of the world’s coral reefs

A Sniippet of weekly news #14 – July 2020

Good news on the global front with several vaccines progressing well in stage three trials. Meanwhile, Victoria continues to see increased coronavirus cases and measures.

The anti-viral medication Remdesivir has now been approved for use in Australia.

PM Morrison has ruled out an elimination strategy for the coronavirus and has announced extensions for JobKeeper and the supplement for JobSeeker.

The RBA governor laments the tough job market for young people while young people are protesting the possible US ban of TikTok.

With most flights grounded, one Greek student couldn’t wait and rode a bicycle back to Athens all the way from Scotland.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

What are the changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker? (ABC, 21 July)

  • JobKeeper: from the end of September, payments for full-time workers are decreasing from $1,500 to $1,200 a fortnight. It will then drop to $1,000 in January before ending in March.
  • For part-time workers, payments are falling to $750 in September and then to $650 in January.
  • Employers will have to meet the hardship criteria in September and again in January.
  • JobSeeker: After September the supplemental payment will decrease from $550 to $250 a fortnight.
  • But, from the end of September, you will be able to earn $300 a fortnight, instead of the previous $106, before your JobSeeker payment is affected.
  • From 4 Aug, JobSeeker recipients will be required to start actively looking for work again

 

Australia’s first COVID-19 treatment approved (health.gov.au, 13 July)

  • Remdesivir has been given provisional approval for use in adults and adolescent patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms who have been hospitalised
  • Remdesivir has been found to reduce hospital time for those suffering from severe COVID
  • The Government is working to secure a sustainable supply of the medicine

Kogan faces big fines for lifting prices before ‘taxtime discounts’ (AFR, 17 July)

  • Kogan misled customers by lifting prices just before tax-time discounts according to the Federal Court
  • The discounts were around 10 percent but Kogan had lifted the price of over 600 products by at least 10 percent before the promotion
  • Kogan also reduced the prices of these products shortly after the promotion ended, many back to their pre-promotion levels

Please don’t take my TikTok away (AFR, 17 July)

  • A potential US ban has sparked an anit-Trump backlash among young users of TikTok
  • Some TikTok stars have already migrated to YouTube
  • Other apps like Byte are also looking to benefit

What you can do if your office isn’t adopting coronavirus-safe practices (ABC, 19 July)

  • All employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers at their workplace
  • If an employer fails to provide a safe workplace within the requirements of government directives and taking the safe workplace principles into account, an employee could contact the workplace health and safety (WHS) enforcement body in their state or territory
  • The Government has introduced the National COVID-19 safe workplace principles but by themselves they are not legally binding

Some good news on the COVID-19 vaccine front (Axios, 20 July)

  • The Oxford vaccine produces an immune response and is safe 
  • It is in phase three trials, the last step before possible approval
  • Other vaccines in phase three include, Moderna (US) and at least six Chinese vaccines
  • According to the Milken Institute’s tracker, there are 197 candidate vaccines in development, 19 of which are in some stage of clinical trials

The worst laser and inkjet printers we’ve tested (Choice, 17 July)

  • Worst inkjet: Canon Pixma TS3160; Worst colour laser: HP Colour LaserJet Pro M283fdw
  • It’s important to be realistic about what sort of printing you are likely to do most, and what features are essential for you
  • Ink is usually a bigger component of total cost than the printer itself

A Sniippet of Finance advice

11 investment lessons (Switzer Daily)

  •  The average fund manager does not beat indexes so that’s why index funds are a good option. Good fund managers deserve their premium.
  •  An investment property with a tax strategy can be a great way to build wealth pretty safely
  •  I like to have 20 shares in my portfolio so I only have 5 per cent exposure to any one company, but some people I respect think 10 to 15 can be okay

A Sniippet of Brain food

12 secrets of the brain to use in marketing (Lifehack)

  • Aim for a gut reaction: we have gut reactions in three seconds or less
  • Our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text and 90 percent of the data that our brain processes is visual
  • We are drawn to pictures of human faces

A Sniippet of Trivia

Greek student bikes home from Scotland after flights were repeatedly canceled (UPI, 13 July)

  • The student was studying at the University of Aberdeen but could not fly home to Athens after his flights kept getting canceled 
  • He decided to bicycle the 3,500 kms home; it took 48 days
  • He cycled through England, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Italy before catching a ferry from Italy to Greece

A Sniippet of weekly news #13 – July 2020

Australia looks headed for lockdown 2.0 with the number of coronavirus cases climbing in Victoria and Sydney.

Concerned about the impact of the Victorian lockdown on the nascent economic recovery, the Treasurer is looking to bring its tax cuts forward. Other measures are pending.

Declassified letters have cleared the Queen from any direct involvement in Whitlam’s dismissal.

In the personal finance section, we look at how to improve your credit score.

And on Japanese roller coasters, no one can hear you scream! 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Biggest drop in apartment rents in 15 years (AFR, 9 July)

  • National apartment rents fell 3.2 percent in the June quarter, the biggest drop in more than 15 years
  • Hobart’s rents fell by 8.4 percent while Sydney’s fell 3.8 per cent 
  • Sydney rents are now at their lowest in five years, having fallen 9.1 per cent from their 2017 peak

Retail investors pile in as professionals exit (AFR, 13 July)

  • Retail investors have bought $9bn in shares since March while institutional investors have sold $11bn according to research by Vesparum Capital
  • ASIC has reported a spike in first-time investors
  • Despite warnings early in the crisis, investing during the crisis has paid dividends so far

Frydenberg could bring forward tax cuts (AFR, 8 July)

  • The government could bring forward already legislated personal income tax cuts in response to the outbreak in Victoria and its effect on the national economy
  • The government is also considering  targeted income support measures for workers post-September
  • The government will announce the future of JobKeeper and JobSeeker on July 23

NSW government awards $1m grant to develop ‘flying car’ (The Guardian, 10 July)

  • Startup AMSL Aero is building an electric aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane
  • The prototype will be the size of a family car with a range of Canberra to Sydney
  • The grant will be used to build a test facility in Narromine

The fish in your “Fish & Chips” has been listed as critically endangered (The Guardian, 13 July)

  • ‘Flake’, the fish used by fish and chip shops is actually the school shark
  • The school shark was designated critically endangered last week by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • In Australia, the species is listed as “conservation dependent”, which allows commercial sales to continue

Queen Elizabeth given no warning of Whitlam dismissal (AFR, July 14)

  • Kerr was in frequent communication with the Queen’s Private Secretary over the crisis. He feared Whitlam was going to replace him.
  • Kerr decided it was best not to tell the Queen he was going to sack Whitlam
  • Whitlam wanted the Queen to reinstate him

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to fix your credit score (moneysmart.gov.au)

  • Contact the credit provider or credit reporting agency if they have obvious details wrong e.g. a debt is listed twice or they don’t show that you have entered into a payment plan for a debt
  • lower your credit card limits
  • limit you applications for credit cards and loans
  • pay your bills within 60 days

A Sniippet of Brain food

Different physical exercises to help different brain functions (The Guardian)

  • Walk or cycle while revising something to improve retention
  • Both aerobic and resistance exercise can be “moderately effective” in treating depressive symptoms
  • Walking leads to more creative thinking
  • Weightlifting has positive effects on the brain

A Sniippet of Trivia

Japanese theme parks reopened but with screaming on roller coasters banned (The Daily Mail, 13 July)

  • Japanese theme parks reopened last month but with a ban on screaming because of the risk of coronavirus
  • Visitors have been complaining about the rule
  • In response to complaints, two Japanese theme park executives have filmed themselves riding their park’s roller coaster in silence
  • When opened in 1996, it was the world’s largest roller coaster 

A Sniippet of weekly news #12 – July 2020

More bad news for Victoria this week with increased coronavirus numbers and a lockdown in Melbourne.

Meanwhile the economic recovery seems to be slowing down in Australia and the US. The RBA calls it the biggest correction since the 1930s.

In good news, Banks will extend loan payment deferral after September while calls are increasing to extend JobKeeper and the current levels of JobSeeker.

In our Brain Food section, we look at new research on the effect of bone hormones on ageing. It promises new treatments for memory and muscle loss. 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Banks to extend mortgage loan deferral to customers still struggling with coronavirus restrictions (ABC News, 8 July)

  • Banks will offer some customers another four months to start paying back their loans after the initial deferral period ends in September
  • Banks may also contact customers to restructure their loans
  • More than 800,000 people had deferred repayments during the coronavirus pandemic

Property prices fall as fiscal cliff looms (AFR, 1 July)

  • Property values in Melbourne and Perth fell by 1.1 percent in June, a 0.8 percent fall in Sydney, a 0.4 percent fall in Brisbane and a 0.2 percent fall in Adelaide, according to CoreLogic
  • Nationally, prices fell by 0.7 per cent
  • This follows on from falls in May

Coles, Woolworths say supplies safe despite NSW-VIC border closure (AFR, 7 July)

  • Freight will continue to flow across the border
  • Supermarkets have been designated as an essential service

Tax office tells some businesses who received Jobkeeper they were not entitled to payments (The Guardian, 2 July)

  • Sole traders who started their businesses after 1 January this year may have to pay JobKeeper payments back
  • The ATO has sent emails to some sole traders
  • The problem is that new companies cannot meet the requirement to show that their revenue has fallen by 30 percent compared to 2018-19 financial year

Small businesses call for mandatory maximum payment times as late payments cost them hundreds of millions of dollars (ABC News, 7 July)

  • Small businesses are calling for mandatory maximum payment times
  • Late payments are getting worse for small businesses during the pandemic
  • Late payments cost small businesses $7 billion a year
  • If you are a small business struggling with late payments then Sniip can help! Get in touch at info@sniip.com

Land-clearing in NSW rises nearly 60% since laws were relaxed (The Guardian, 2 July)

  • Laws were relaxed in 2017
  • 73 percent of clearings did not not have an environmental assessment
  • A Natural Resources Commission report from early this year labelled NSW’s land-clearing laws as a “state-wide risk to biodiversity”

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Investing during a recession can pay off handsomely (AFR, 30 June)

  • Equities actually do better during a recession than the conventional wisdom would have us believe
  • The ASX increased by 13 percent during the last recession
  • Save more during a recession and keep investing

A Sniippet of Brain food

Bone hormones can fight against the effects of ageing (The Guardian, 5 July)

  • Research has found that our bones communicate to our other organs through hormones that circulate in our blood
  • Scientists are developing treatments for memory and muscle loss based on some of these hormones
  • Exercise stimulates the production of these hormones

A Sniippet of Trivia

The Eiffel Tower could have been built in Barcelona (theculturetrip.com)

  • It is rumoured that the Eiffel Tower was first offered to Barcelona
  • The Eiffel Tower was originally built as a temporary showcase for the Parisian World Fair in 1889
  • Barcelona held its own world fair a year before Paris

A Sniippet of weekly news #11 – June 2020

Victoria stole all the headlines this week with spiking coronavirus cases and planes being turned away by the premier.

The Australian economy is still suffering but is doing better than most according to the IMF. 

Queensland has reopened its borders but it is not soon enough for swimwear company Seafolly which has gone into administration.

Lastly, I’m sorry to tell Queenslanders that the Big Pineapple is not the biggest pineapple but as a consolation Yale is offering a free course in happiness!

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

One in three businesses in cash crunch (AFR, 24 June)

  • One in three businesses say their cash on hand would allow them to survive less than three months according to a June ABS survey
  • Two-thirds of companies experienced a revenue decline compared with the same period last year
  • 14 percent had more than 75 percent of their revenue wiped out

Australia bans nicotine vaping imports for 2021 (The Guardian, 26 June)

  • An import ban will apply from 1 Jan 2021 rather than the originally announced 1 July 2020
  • Vaping supplies will still be available through a GP prescription as a last resort for cigarette quitters
  • The sale of vaping products in Australia is already illegal

Dirty dancing breaks the rules as WA moves to open nightclubs (AFR, 26 June)

  • WA has reopened nightclubs but patrons must observe 1.5m social distancing
  • The WA health minister says police will not be using a measuring tape but implores people to be sensible at club 
  • WA’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has soared to 8.1 per cent

Tough times at the box office for reopening cinemas (AFR, 26 June)

  • Cinema’s revenue to fall 26 percent this financial year
  • 83 percent of Event Cineme’s Cinebuzz members plan to return to cinemas within three months
  • Going to the movies ranked higher than going out with friends, going shopping or going to a restaurant as an activity people were most looking forward to once restrictions are eased

Slack could kill email for businesses with new Slack Connect (The Verge, 24 June)

  • Slack is a popular instant messaging service for companies’ internal communications
  • Slack has announced a new product which will allow companies to communicate with each other securely
  • Microsoft teams has been making headway against Slack during the pandemic but this could change things

Bikini icon Seafolly dives into voluntary administration (9 News, 29 June)

  • Popular swimwear brand has gone into administration citing the pandemic
  • The company was founded in 1975 and has 44 stores in Australia and 12 stores overseas
  • Stores will remain open for now and gift-cards remain redeemable

A Sniippet of Finance advice

What financial apps do Australians use everyday? (Mozo)

  • Five types of financial apps used by Australians everyday are:
  1. banking apps
  2. mobile payment apps
  3. International transfer and travel apps
  4. Budgeting and savings apps
  5. Investing apps

A Sniippet of Brain food

Yale offering a free course in happiness (entrepreneur.com)

  • Yale’s course on happiness, Psychology and the Good Life, is now available online for free
  • It is one of Yale’s most popular courses ever, back in 2018, 1 in 4 Yale students took it
  • Happiness can be measured and you will measure it before and after you finish the course to see the effect of the course

A Sniippet of Trivia

The Big Pineapple is not the biggest (Medium)

  • South Africa’s big pineapple is 4ft higher
  • It was built in the 1980s
  • Queensland’s big pineapple was built in 1971
  • South Africa’s big pineapple is the largest fruit-shaped building in the world

A Sniippet of weekly news #10 – June 2020

While coronavirus cases are increasing in some countries and states, recent economic data suggests that Australia’s economy is doing AAA ok.

Australian unicorn Canva is doing more than ok with a recent capital raising valuing it at $6bn USD. We also look at the rise of fraudulent business invoices, changes to uni fees, the future of Australian wine and preparing your mind for the next disaster – good grief!

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Cheaper uni degrees for careers in demand (AFR, 19 June)

  • Government to adjust degree subsidies to encourage students towards industries with strong jobs demand.
  • The cost of studying maths or agriculture will fall by as much as 61 per cent.
  • Arts degrees will cost up to 113 per cent more.

Fraudulent invoices the new trend in business scams (AFR, 23 June)

  • Fraudulent invoices cost businesses $132 million in 2019 according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report.
  • It was the highest loss of any scam type.
  • Scammers intercept legitimate email invoices and change the details to include fraudulent payment information.

Perth based web-design unicorn Canva hits $6bn USD (Forbes, 22 June)

  • A recent capital raising has revalued Canva at $6bn USD, similar to that of Dropbox.
  • Business has been booming during the pandemic.
  • Up to 30m users a month are now using Canva.
  • The company was started in 2007 as a yearbook design business in Perth.

Billionaire says the rise of Robinhood traders will ‘end in tears’ (The Daily Mail, 16 June)

  • A rush of amateur traders have flooded commission-free trading apps.
  • Robinhood, the most famous, has over 13 million users with a median age of 31.
  • “They are just doing stupid things, and in my opinion, this will end in tears.”
  • Sadly, the comment now seems prescient given the death of a young trader in the US this week.

The best new wines from Australia’s changing climate (AFR, 23 June)

  • A new publication, Australia’s Wine Future: A Climate Atlas, outlines how climate change will affect Australia’s wine regions to the year 2100.
  • Some growers are turning to technology to combat rising temperatures while others are introducing new grape varieties from Southern Europe.
  • Some wine regions may be abandoned unless climate change is addressed.


A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to future-proof your investment unit (AFR, 19 June)

  • Buying at the current lower prices and historically low interest rates could make for a great longer-term profit despite falling rental returns.
  • Take a ten-year time horizon and buy in a promising but currently discounted area.
  • Lock-in good renters for the long-term

A Sniippet of Brain food

Stop Preparing For The Last Disaster (Farnam Street Blog)

  • Rather than preparing for the last disaster to repeat itself (availability bias), prepare to be surprised by life.
  • The same disasters rarely happen twice in a row.
  • Take a step back and look at what made you vulnerable to the last disaster rather than the disaster itself.
  • Think seriously about a range of possible future disasters.

A Sniippet of Trivia

US Cheese prices hit a record high (Chicago Tribune, 22 June)

  • Consumers are buying a lot more cheese than normal, pushing up prices. This is despite a drop-off in sales from restaurants and schools.
  • Like oil, cheese prices are largely determined by trading. At 11am each trading day, key industry players trade cheese contracts for ten minutes on the Chicago Mutual Exchange (CME).
  • Block cheddar provides the industry’ key reference price.
  • Prices fell to a 20-year record low in April but have now rebounded strongly.

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

A Sniippet of weekly news #8 – June 2020

In this issue, we learn that happiness gets better after 47 while a 68 woman becomes the first  person to go to space and the deepest part of the ocean.

In the real news, the latest data shows that the economy struggled in March but is improving in May. Meanwhile the share market has a life of its own.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Home builders get $25,000 grants (Domain, 4 June)

  • Government to provide $25,000 grants to build a new home or start a major renovation
  • Restricted to new homes and major renovations valued between $150,000 to $750,000
  • Available for singles who earned up to $125,000 the previous financial year and couples who earned up to $200,000
  • Scheme to last until the end of the year

Kogan.com worth five times more than Myer (AFR, 5 June)

  • As of last Friday, Kogan’s market capitalisation was $1.2 billion, which is more than five times that of Myer’s $220 million.
  • Mr Kogan said. “E-commerce in Australia has advanced several years in the space of a few months.”
  • At the start of the coronavirus restrictions in March, the main items being purchased were laptops, computer equipment, keyboards and webcams but now the increases area across categories

Australian banks save billions by failing to pass on interest rate cuts to credit card customers, CHOICE research finds (ABC News, 9 June)

  • Australian banks have pocketed $6.3 billion from credit card customers by failing to pass on interest rate cuts over the last decade
  • The card with the largest increase since April 2016 is the Coles-branded Coles Low Rate Mastercard

Two in three women will not return to pre-virus spending (AFR, 9 June)

  • Australian women are less likely than men to go back to their normal spending patterns as restrictions are lifted according to research
  • 35 percent of Millennial women said they did not feel financially secure, compared to 26 percent of Millennial men

Qantas will begin reopening lounges in July (AFR, 5 June)

  • Qantas will begin reopening its lounges in July
  • Goal is to reach 40 percent of pre-crisis capacity by the end of July
  • The airline said it would enforce physical distancing, use disinfectant on surfaces and install hand sanitising stations.

Brisbane facing a year of apartment oversupply (AFR, 8 June)

  •  The market is heading for oversupply in the 2021 financial year according to a new report by m3property
  • Covid-19 has reduced population growth and demand
  • QLD population growth to halve in 2021

Now you can buy a Coke with bitcoin (AFR, 9 June)

  • 1,200 Coca-Cola vending machines in Australia and New Zealand have started accepting bitcoin
  • Requires a QR scanner on your mobile and a Sylo smart wallet

What Australia can learn from Sweden’s move to a cashless society (ABC News, 8 June)

  • A report predicts Australia could be cashless within two years
  • Elderly and disadvantaged have struggled with the switch to cashless in Sweden
  • 500,000 Australians do not bank online

A Sniippet of Finance advice

The seven budget and savings apps every Aussie needs (Mozo, February 2020)

  • Moneytree tracks your reward points and your finances
  • Wiselist combines your grocery list with your budget
  • Spendee can track your finances across multiple currencies
  • Of course we also need to mention Sniip! Sniip allows you to pay, track and schedule your bills, and to earn full points with many of your reward programs on most bills.

A Sniippet of Brain food

Happiness is U shaped with age  (NBER Working Paper, David G. Blanchflower, January 2020)

  • Happiness decreases from around 16 years of age reaching a low at around 47 to 48 years of age after which it starts to increase again
  • The U shape is consistent across 132 countries with different median incomes and life expectancies. It is consistent even after controlling for factors such as marital status. 
  • Happiness was measured by asking a person whether they were satisfied with their living standard, finances, and country

A Sniippet of Trivia

Former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan becomes first person to travel to space and ocean’s deepest point (ABC New, 9June)

  • 68 year old Dr Sullivan travelled in a submersible to Challenger Deep, a point 11 kilometres below ocean level
  • In 1984, she was the first American woman to do a space walk

A Sniippet of Fun

Lismore in northern New South Wales this week looked more like Winterfell. Photographed by lisa_g_photography.