Lovely day, 21C, no wind. Nice. Spring tomorrow. Can’t wait.
From Crikey.com: Strange how business calls for “economic reform” are always aimed at everyone else, and never at the worst forms of rorts, incompetence and scandals, which cost millions of Australians billions in lost income.
Take AMP. It was a corporate hero in the recession of the 1990s, coming to the aid of a near bankrupt Westpac. It helped in the float of the Commonwealth Bank. It owned 10% of Macquarie Bank (now Macquarie Group). It was perhaps the most important investor in the country, the bluest of blue chips, with more than $90 billion in total assets.
The old AMP Society was demutualised in 1998. Shares in the new company were valued at $6.19 in that deal and quickly soared, touching $15.87 in November of 1998. Since then it’s been a long slide punctuated with repeated managerial and boardroom unrest and scandal.
When AMP demutualised it had an excess of capital. It soon went on a spending spree, picking up UK funds manager Henderson, National Provident Institution and then GIO. GIO was a $3 billion investment that lost $1 billion.
By 2003 AMP’s share price had hit a record low $2.72, having lost shareholders 73% in value since listing. It recovered briefly above $10 a share in 2007, but has rarely been above $6 since.
As the Hayne royal commission unfolded and revealed a remarkable array of misconduct and egregious rorting by AMP, it fell below $5, the $4, then $3, then $2. Last week it closed at $1.50.
That was Crikey, this is me. In the 1990s a work colleague was allocated AMP shares when they demutualised. He didn’t want them, so I offered to buy them from him, believing, as they say above, that they were the bluest of blue chips. I paid the going rate then, $20 a share for 155 shares.
After twenty years of mismanagement, dishonesty, frauds, incompetence, “egregious rorting” and plain management greed, my shares are now worth just over $1.50. I’ve lost most of my money. It’s hardly worth selling them now.
My point is, the Liberal Party is always down on unions, to the point where they ran a Royal Commission into unions with the word “corruption” in the title, yet any misbehaviour by unions (and yes, there is some) pales to insignificance beside the incompetence and dishonesty, greed and criminality of Australian managements. Promotion in Australian companies is rarely based on education or qualifications. It’s far more often based on being one of the boys, being rough and tough. I’ve seen it.
I finished the second edition of Croft History vol. 1 2nd edition and sent it off for printing on Saturday. It’s a tedious process because although I bought three vouchers and want to use them for the same order, the web site won’t let me. Each voucher number had to be submitted as a separate order, which meant three separate upload processes, requiring about 30 mins each. And paying $12.95 for postage on each order.
I’ve now bought four more vouchers for my own copies (which will be for sale) and I don’t want to have to go through their rigmarole again. I’ve sent off a query to Support asking why their multiple copy function won’t work but going on past experience it will be several days before I get an answer.
I watched the four episodes of The Salisbury Poisonings on SBS last week with rapt attention. It was pretty well made, showing the lengths the police had to go to to keep the public away from anything that could have been contaminated by the Russian Novichok nerve poison. I was surprised, though, by the public displays of anger at the police. This seems to be a characteristic of the British people – they are much more prone to demonstrations and shows of anger than we are. Maybe it’s just TV drama but it occurs very often.
The other thing that struck me was the sexism. The civilian leader of the Public Health Department crisis team was a woman and she was repeatedly shown in private displays of weakness, crying, showing her fatigue, how the weight of responsibility was bearing down on her.
Yet the male police were never shown in any form of distress. They just showed the calm competence that we think of them. The contrast was very clear to me. The woman got through, of course, but it wasn’t a good look.
Great show, though. It was just another illustration of what rotten leaders the Russians have. We’ve seen it again last week in the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. Once again, Putin and his cronies resort to crude poisoning to cripple anyone who opposes them. It’s disgusting. In the Salisbury case, they took enough of the deadliest nerve agent to poison an entire city, and dumped it in a bin where it could have been found by anyone, as it was.
I’ve said this before: the lack of morals by Russians – Russian airforce pilots have no qualms about dropping bombs on hospitals in Syria, killing medical staff and children without a care. No Australian pilot would do this! They would refuse such an order. It is a war crime, an outrage. But Russian pilots do it repeatedly. They are amoral cowards.
Hah! I replied to a Facebook post from a woman in the USA who loves Trump. She believes the sun shines out of his arse. I thought I’d have a play with her and boy-oh-boy, she is a sick woman. Trump doesn’t tell lies, the Washington Post does. (Why would the newspapers lie? What advantage would it give them? Quite the opposite, if they are caught lying, it would go badly for them.)
Anyway, I batted back and forth a few times but I’ve bailed out. This US woman is a true believer in the Trump lies. Wasting my time.
The thought of him being voted back in scares me. It would give him a new sense of his power and legitimacy which he would use to do even worse things. It’s frightening. Half of the USA has gone mad. I wish the mad half would get the virus and die.