Chinese streets with lights and high buildings


The Chinese New Year celebrations have been extended to 2nd February to accommodate those affected by the shutdown on transport routes. That shut down of the stable door may have happened after this particular horse has bolted. There are now five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, one in Canada and three in France and all major destinations for Chinese citizens and visitors are on high alert.

Without wishing to sound callous, as well as the personal tragedies and disruption, this will have an impact on global commerce. Wuhan is a major transit route for Chinese goods and travellers, so if it is closed, that will damage China’s economy. And, as we have seen over the past three years or so, if China slows, the world slows too. Monday is the start of that Chinese New Year celebrations and it is also Australia Day. It is sad that these national celebrations in both countries are overshadowed by major problems but I hope your Australia day celebrations have gone well for all our Aussie readers. Good on you.


Maneki-neko fortune cat – Chinese New year concept

Maneki-neko fortune cat – Chinese New year celebrations concept


Big week for UK with or without Big Ben

This is a big week for the UK. The Bank of England may well cut their base rate on Thursday. It would be a controversial decision, given the mixed data emanating from the UK and the lack of a clear case for a rate cut, but Mark Carney may wish to steer a cut nonetheless. And on Friday at 11:00pm, Britain will finally officially leave the EU with or without a Big Ben bong. The next 11 months of trade negotiations are still going to be market moving and all the macho posturing will get on our nerves, but it has to be done. Interestingly, the US seems keen to want to rub the EU’s nose in it and get an agreement with the UK in place pronto. We shall see.


Trade negotiations critical

The US trade negotiators are certainly peeved that the EU wants to impose tax changes to rope the tech giants into paying more tax in the EU. I suspect the US negotiations are brushing up on their translations for No into Non, Nein, Nao, Nie, Nil, etc. The EU needs to get a deal done with both the UK and US. German business expectations were worse than expected this morning and their current climate assessment is as bad as it’s been since 2014. All Leo Vardakas’ ‘upper hand’ rhetoric looks a little hollow with that going on in the background.


Exchange rates looking good to sell Sterling

The exchange rates themselves haven’t changed a lot over the weekend. With China and Australia on holiday, the market volume was very limited overnight. GBP starts the week around $1.3050 and €1.1850 but is also at reasonably elevated levels elsewhere. A$1.9250, NZ$1.99 and C$1.7220 are all healthy levels at which to sell the Pound.


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The bones of a good idea?

And a chap in Arizona had been caught out using a High Occupancy Vehicle lane with a skeleton on the passenger seat making up the occupancy levels. Nice try, but flesh may be necessary with the bones to get away with that next time.


Stopped for speeding

A police officer in a small Midwest American town stopped a motorist doing 60 MPH down Main Street.

“But officer,” the man said, “you need to let me go. I can explain.”

“Just be quiet!” snapped the officer. “…or I’m going to let you cool off in a jail cell until the chief gets back.”

“But officer, I just wanted to say….”

“I said KEEP QUIET! Now you’re going to jail,” said the officer.

With that, the motorist was cuffed and driven back to the Police Station.

A few hours later, the officer checked up on his prisoner and said, “Lucky for you that the chief’s at his daughter’s wedding. You might just be OK. He’ll be in a good mood when he gets back.”

“Oh, I doubt that,” said the guy in the cell. “I’m the groom!”