My hosting service had a major hard drive failure which has kept me off air for several days. Of course that meant I couldn’t post an explanation, but I belatedly realised (thanks to a reader getting in contact there) that I could have put up an announcement on my Facebook page. Anyway I’m back on air and I’ll make up for some of the lost time with some quick points
* Ken Henry is using his annual leave to help save the endangered hairy-nosed wombat, but I’m expected a new round of extinctions among the endangered species of Opposition leaders.
* After equivocating for months, the Rudd government seems finally to have bitten the bullet, saying, correctly “We’ll make petrol dearer“. Meanwhile, looking at the international news, I’ve been struck with the failure of demagogic attempts like the Liberals’ proposed cut in fuel excise. The McCain-Clinton gas tax holiday seems to have sunk without trace, the EU has held the line against protests, and lots of countries (Indonesia and China among others) are cutting existing subsidies as the futility of a cheap energy policy becomes evident
* The news from the credit crisis in the US has been more alarming than ever. The collapse of the (largely bogus) bond insurance business of firms like MBIA and Ambac has generated a new crisis in markets for associated credit default derivatives. And it turns out the the infusions of equity received by most banks late last year, which ended the first round of the credit crunch had conditions attached which make any further resort to this rescue method highly appealing (essentially, those who made the first injection have to get free shares to offset any subsequent dilution). All of this is mindnumbingly complex. But whereas the inference from complexity used to be “this is much too hard to understand, and the experts have it all under control” it’s now more like “who knows where the next time bomb is hidden>”.