May, 2019

Prices to soar as dollar falls, economists warn

“Travel is the most instantaneous thing to go up” … economist Shane Oliver. Photo: Jim Rice “If the dollar goes down, the prices of all imported appliances will go up” … Gerry Harvey.
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The days of cheap overseas travel and attractive online prices are over, leading economists say. With the Australian dollar falling to a 33-month low on Thursday, travel and online retail prices are expected to soar immediately.

Petrol, whitegoods and electronic equipment prices are expected to rise by up to 10 per cent.

“Anything in a foreign price will go up straight away,” AMP Capital’s chief economist Shane Oliver said. “It’s the same with online suppliers. That price, when translated, will be higher than it was six week ago.”

Mr Oliver predicted travel expenses to rise by 10 per cent.

“Travel is the most instantaneous thing to go up,” he said.

“If you are booking hotels or transport or events in overseas countries, it will cost you more.”

But Flight Centre’s spokesman Haydn Long said the rise in travel prices would not be a “cause for concern” after several years of a high Australian dollar, as it would “basically bring us back to the average since the dollar floated”.

Imported whitegoods, furniture and electronics are expected to steadily rise, leading retailers said.

Consumer group Choice warned consumers against buying from companies that have suddenly put their prices up in reaction to the Australian dollar.

“Consumers should be sceptical of any local store that is suddenly charging higher prices because of the falling Australian dollar,” spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

“We know that with some products, like appliances, they have been in the country for months and in some cases even years. Day-to-day movements in the dollar don’t affect the price of something that has been sitting in a warehouse.”

Harvey Norman’s chairman, Gerry Harvey, said consumers would have a three-month period before imported goods would increase in price by up to 10 per cent.

“We’re negotiating with manufacturers as we speak,” he said. “Our prices will go up, everyone’s will.”

Mr Harvey said if the dollar dropped below 80 cents compared with the US dollar, consumers should expect a 25 per cent increase.

“Suppliers will either move fast or hold out on raising their prices, but regardless, if the dollar goes down, the prices of all imported appliances will go up.”

Mr Harvey said a basic washing machine costing $500 is expected to cost up to $550 in the coming months.

“But again, those prices haven’t been negotiated,” he said.

The owner of 2ndsworld, Peter Hammerman, said imported appliances such as front-load washers, air-conditioners, televisions and DVD players would “100 per cent” go up.

“They will all be affected across Australia with a fall in the dollar no matter the company,” he said.

Senior Westpac economist, Matthew Hassan, said the “deflation trend” that led to low prices across the retail and travel industries over the past 12 months was over.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Retirees feel like they are 30 again, study finds

People in their late 60s feel like they are back in the prime of life. Photo: Phil CarrickRetirement makes people feel happier and healthier than they have done at any point since their mid-30s.
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Figures released by Britain’s Office for National Statistics show that people in their late 60s feel like they are back in their prime, with similar levels of satisfaction with their health to those 30 years younger.

The incidence of anxiety and depression drops by almost a third between the early 50s and late 60s.

The figures suggest that those Britons in their late 60s are more carefree than any other age group, including young people. The report, published by the ONS in its ongoing “wellbeing” program, suggests that people’s sense of health and wellbeing is on a “downward trend” from their teens until late middle age before a sudden bounce in their 60s.

Retirement experts said that for some people the relief of finally retiring made them feel happier. For those who continue to work past retirement age, they may feel satisfaction at having made plans for the next phase of their life.

As part of a wider study of 40,000 households, part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s “happiness”, people were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their overall health as well as being asked a series of questions about any conditions that limit their everyday activities.

Overall, two-thirds of people indicated that they were satisfied with their health but the responses varied with age.

Satisfaction

Those in the youngest group, aged 16 to 24, unsurprisingly ranked their health most highly with a 75 per cent satisfaction rate. People in their late 20s and early 30s showed a health satisfaction rate just over 70 per cent, which drifted to 69 per cent by the late 30s.

The rates fell to just over 60 per cent by the age of 59 but jumped to 67 per cent among those between 65 and 70. For men the rates continued at similar levels until their mid-70s.

Measures of mental wellbeing showed a similar pattern. The ONS found that almost one in five of the population exhibited some signs of at least low level anxiety and depression, based on responses to a series of questions.

The proportion peaked at 22 per cent among those in their late 40s and 50s but dropped to just 14 per cent among those in their late 60s.

Dr Ros Altman, a pensions expert and former government adviser on ageing, said that for those reaching retirement the realisation that they are still in good health, often unlike their parents’ generation, can itself be “life-enhancing”.

“The social narrative is that you reach retirement and you are decrepit or infirm or you are going to get ill but now most people find that that isn’t the case,” she said. “I suspect that what is happening socially is that as people reach their mid 50s, they are bound to start worrying about the next stage in their life which would normally be considered to be retirement.

“There will be a strand of people worrying about what they are going to do and not having enough money but once they reach their 60s they are more likely to have made their plans and have some idea of what they are going to do.”

Daily Telegraph, London

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Discord: behave yourself or live with regret

Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson. Charged: Blake Ferguson, right Photo: Michael Carayannis
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Blake Ferguson

 Last week Discord was rightly criticised for posting yet another column on the Origin I biff, a couple of readers pointing out that they’d already read much more than enough on the subject.

Fair cop.

But sometimes, when the current debate on a footy-related issue seems to be missing something, Discord feels a duty to point out the elephants in the room. So we’ll do that regarding recent events and move straight on to something else.

The first elephant is not in any way highlighted as an excuse for some of the boorish behaviour we have seen over the last week … but it is a major contributing factor and has been completely overlooked for some mystifying reason.

It’s hormones. While columns like this love to point out that players have limited careers and should learn to stay indoors and out of trouble, to the players the limited time span is a reason to go out.

They’ll only be this fit, this famous, this single and this good looking – all at once – for less than a decade and there are plenty of wild oats to sow in that time.

To a 23-year-old, there is a fear that if you don’t take advantage of these unique circumstances, you’ll regret it in your old age. The jealousy of your contemporaries can be overpowering. Of course, getting in trouble creates even bigger regrets … but that may not happen … so it seems worth the gamble.

To Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan, not going out on Sunday night would have seemed a terrible, tragic waste of an opportunity.

Secondly – and I will use this as an excuse for the Mal Meninga “incident” – how easy is it to be refused service or even entry to a pub these days? I’m sure many readers have been refused entry in Sydney when they have not had a single drink, just because the guys on the door don’t like the look of their eyes as a result of some training course they did.

I have been refused service, or entry, in licensed establishments at least 20 times. I probably deserved it on more than half those occasions but I have never done anything more antisocial than drop a glass on the floor.

It’s easy to understand why Mal would feel aggrieved that every daily newspaper saw fit to put his transgression on the back page today. But footballers (and their coaches) are really just reality TV stars these days. Without television, they’d be amateur or part time.

Bluntly, the media machine sees them as merely being there for our amusement, offering us two-dimensional pulp morality tales with everything they do.

So they get treated the same as reality TV stars. If Joel Madden was in town to promote a record, his little dope stash would get less space than if he was judging a massive talent show, publicity for which has been deliberately whipped up by a television network.

Same with Mal. If he was asked to leave the local pub in Redcliffe in November, it would be lucky to rate a paragraph in a gossip column. But Origin is the best rating piece of reality television in Australia.

If the players thought of it more like The Voice, they might understand a little better the way the gossip-obsessed mainstream media treats it.

OK, onto something else.

***

For the record, your correspondent was only joking on Monday when he described Daniel Anderson’s trip to the NHL “bunker” as a junket.

Of course, it’s a good idea for the NRL referees boss to drop in on the way back from the World Cup. We were just making the point that commercial radio stations have already set up similar facilities in this country which would be worth checking out.

Of course, commercial radio stations don’t need to communicate with referees and touch judges. And they often have communication breakdowns with their people at the ground which would be disastrous for match officials.

***

Comments now, and I’ll go through everything written on the bottom of a story on leaguehq上海夜生活m.au or stevemascord上海夜生活m for the last week.

Firstly, last week’s Discord. Harry Sanchez said he was bored with another comment piece on the Origin brawl. I sympathise with you. I only led on it because I was bereft of any other decent idea. Bluey said how many papers are sold after a boring game of football. That’s the beauty of journalism, Bluey. We’re not there to sell papers any more than a doctor should be there to make money for his hospital. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Doctors fix people whether they pay or not; journalists report the truth whether it’s popular or not. In reality, we all know there are exceptions to both rules. But we are supposed to treat the truth as our only boss and it’s up to others to make money from our work.

Farcough said players should be paid to go on magazine shows because they provide the raw material for the entertainment. I agree. I wasn’t whinging about them being paid.

Dave said a send-off could just reduce the bench to three rather that the playing complement to 13. But that would allow for a cynical foul in the last 10 minutes for which there would effectively be no punishment at all. DD talked about Nate Myles leading with his head. Hopefully the attention brought upon this will lead to it being policed in Origin II.

Rustydog continued to argue about my use of the word touchdown. I’ll keep using it so I suggest you complain to the Herald and they might start changing it.

Luke McMahon said league was not entertaining at the high level and this was discouraging kids. I’ll take your word for it. But Origin seems to rate very well and kids seem to know who rugby league players are. The disconnect is between that and actually playing – and that’s what needs to be addressed.

Now to Set Of Six. Teviot Bob said all clubs should play games at provincial venues. How about during Origin time, too, when interest in the city wanes somewhat? Bluesbreak wanted to know why England doesn’t play France mid-season. They did – and in 2010 the score was 60-6 to England. Coach Steve MacNamara deemed this an unsatisfactory preparation for playing Australia and New Zealand.

Haggis said banning punching in Origin was “pandering to the tut-tut brigade”. Gorden Tallis called them “tree huggers” on NRL 360. What can I say? I photographed myself hugging a tree (see attached picture) immediately. I can assure you I was tut-tutting as I did so.

Sammy Davis Junior wanted to pause the club season for a month for internationals and Origin. TV does not want this and we won’t have it for the duration of the current contract. It’s seen as giving other sports a free kick as international football is just not popular enough in the Australian market.

Mrs C says mysterious forces want NSW to win the Origin series. I honestly wish I could get as emotional about Origin as her. Same goes for Correction and Snitz! Awesome Dimsum said do away with Origin. Um, not even if you gave them half a billion dollars, Dimsum. And Paulmac, I don’t think playing 20 minutes games against anyone is going to prepare England for a World Cup.

And onto Monday night’s match coverage. Lots of debate about whether Aaron Woods is up to Origin. REC, the match report was actually filed with a few minutes to go and some of the scoring details left blank to be updated. They were updated – but not completely. Sorry about that. Machooka, thanks for the rap but newspaper reporters do not write their own headlines! Oh, and the trip was on Sam Thaiday, not Ben Hannant.

Quite a few comments on the Cameron Smith news story from the other day but none that invite a response.

Now to stevemascord上海夜生活m. Steve Mitchell doesn’t like the idea of the 2015 Lions playing only two Tests each against Australia and New Zealand. Let’s remember it’s the end of the year, out of season. They could play six Tests and no tour games but that takes some novelty out of the tour. I like it.

James Cheeseman said the RLIF is trying to get rugby league admitted to Sports Accord, which would hopefully end the disgraceful marginalisation of the game in South Africa.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

What’s wrong with the Weagles?

West Coast Eagle woes. Storied veteran Andrew Embley, left, and feted youngster Andrew Gaff, right, have been below their best in an underperforming Eagles midfield. Photo: Pat Scala
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Footy Fix preview video

To say that the footy pundits were “bullish” about West Coast’s prospects for 2013 would if anything be an understatement.

Despite Sydney’s premiership win, despite Hawthorn remaining the flag favourite for this season in the early markets and despite the fact that West Coast hadn’t finished in the top four, it was the Eagles who seemed to have the most people jumping on the bandwagon, this observer as enthusiastically as any.

In real terms, West Coast had fallen from fourth in 2011 to fifth last year, yet the “buts” were significant. They’d managed to hang in there in the face of a horror injury run, denied the services of Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski all season, and Josh Kennedy, Andrew Embley and Matt Rosa for considerable periods.

There was a deep midfield and with significant parts of it seemingly still on the improve – particularly Luke Shuey, Scott Selwood, Chris Masten and Andrew Gaff, the latter so much so I was happy to nominate him as my “emerging star” in The Age’s Footy 2013 magazine.

All reasoning which looks more than a little sick right now. Indeed, come Friday night’s game against Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium, the Eagles won’t just be jousting with another top team, but doing so from outside the top eight, desperate merely to maintain any chance of appearing in September at all, let alone the final Saturday.

Just what has happened to the pre-season flag fancy, one enticing enough to have had no fewer than seven of 17 tipsters in that magazine nominate West Coast to win the flag, and 10 have them at least playing off on grand final day?

Injuries have again been a factor, with critical big man Nic Naitanui absent until round six, team leader Beau Waters only managing four games, likewise Collingwood recruit Sharrod Wellingham, while Nicoski is still to appear at all.

But perhaps the injuries have also become something of a psychological crutch for some still on the park, particularly around the ball. For while West Coast’s forward line and defence have managed to at least hold the fort, its much-vaunted midfield depth has been found sadly wanting.

The Eagles’ ball players simply haven’t been able to get their hands on the footy nearly enough, the team currently ranked second-last in the competition for average disposals. Just as, if not more significantly, when they do get their hands on the pill, it’s under a lot more pressure and not being nearly as damaging.

That’s reflected clearly in the numbers for uncontested possession and disposal efficiency. At this stage last season, West Coast ranked sixth for percentage of uncontested possession. It’s currently dead last. Its disposal efficiency to the same stage of 2012 was 74.6 per cent, second-best in the AFL. Currently, it’s 17th.

It appears opponents have learned to apply much better pressure to the Eagles’ runners, but also that those same West Coast culprits haven’t been prepared to work hard enough to find the necessary space to receive and use the ball without too much heat upon them.

On an individual level, wingman Gaff is perhaps the best example. He’s been watched far more closely in 2013, the likes of Carlton’s Ed Curnow and even low-profile Saint Sam Dunnell managing to shut him down.This time last year, Gaff was averaging 26 disposals, 20 of them uncontested, with disposal efficiency of 77 per cent. Those respective figures now are 18, 12 and 71 per cent, a dramatic decline.

Shuey and Scott Selwood, winner of the Eagles’ best and fairest last year, have also come back to the field. Shuey is actually winning more football this season, but using it far worse, his disposal efficiency having fallen from 79 to 70 per cent. Ditto for Selwood, who efficiency percentage has slipped from 81 to just 69.

What we’re watching at the moment is arguably the competition’s biggest “flat-track bully”, all of the Eagles’ six victories to date coming against the bottom six teams on the ladder, the most recent a lucky four-point win over the hardly intimidating St Kilda.

And the fortress which their Subiaco home used to be has become more of a liability in 2013, four of their five losses on that allegedly most difficult turf for opponents from interstate.

A mere glance at West Coast’s draw indicates it’s going to be an uphill battle, not only against the Hawks, but to avoid having their season wind up in August. After Friday’s clash with the Hawks come games against Essendon, Adelaide (away), better-performed local rival Fremantle, then Sydney.

There’s only a short and slight easing of that pressure before three of their four final games against Essendon again, Geelong and Collingwood. And hardly a record thus far to offer much hope of a dramatic revival.

The pre-season optimism about the Eagles came against a backdrop of a distinctly unimpressive summer campaign, in which West Coast looked lethargic. What few sceptics there were saw the danger signs, most of us preferring instead to see a team pacing itself until the serious stuff began.

Right now, it appears the doubters had it right, and if the maxim you play as well as you train continues to hold, there’s a lot of us football pundits out there standing to look pretty silly only a couple of months from now.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Senate vote clears Ahmed for Ashes

Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed has cleared the final hurdle to be eligible for the looming Ashes series in England after legislation that allows him to be granted a passport successfully passed through the Senate on Thursday afternoon.
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The Pakistan-born asylum seeker is touring with the Australia A squad in England but can now officially be selected for the main event of the northern hemisphere summer after amendments to the Citizenship Act were given the green light in Canberra by passing through both houses of parliament.

Ahmed, 31, was on Wednesday named in an Australia A squad to tour South Africa and Zimbabwe starting in July, a visit that clashes with much of the Ashes tour.

However, he will have a chance to make a final impression on selectors when he turns out for the A team against Gloucestershire at Bristol in a match starting on Friday.

National selector John Inverarity said on Wednesday that Ahmed and young Western Australian spinner Ashton Agar were both in contention to be added to the Ashes squad if it was determined that the tourists required a boost to their spin bowling stocks ahead of the series, starting at Trent Bridge on July 10.

Ahmed bowled only 17 overs, claiming just the one wicket, during the previous Australia A match against Ireland in Belfast however that game was played in damp conditions.

“He will be considered for selection – no more than that,” Inverarity said in an interview on the BBC. “If we select him for the Ashes team the amount of pressure on him is going to be extraordinary. He’s shown signs of great maturity, but it’s going to be extremely difficult.”

The inclusion of Ahmed would also ramp up pressure on the team’s incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon, who was dropped for the second Test on the tour of India in March but bounced back well with a fine performance in the final match in Delhi to re-affirm his standing as the country’s top spinner.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.