It was a wild ride for global markets this week! Shares sold off to start the week as Trump went on a tariff bender. The first order of action was to threaten tariffs on French imports in response to a proposed French tax on US tech giants like Google and Amazon – Trump’s logic being that American companies should only be taxed by America. Trump followed that up by announcing tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, claiming that they were hurting American farmers with their weakened currency.
The real doozy came on Tuesday when Trump claimed that he had no deadline for making a deal with China, and that he may even wait until after the 2020 election to do so. Markets had risen in recent months in the hopes that a deal would be stuck before year end – they were hoping for the same thing last December too!
Shares subsequently recouped some of their losses after reports that the US and China were getting closer to a deal – go figure!
In local news, growth in the Australian economy grew 1.7% over the last year, a slight improvement on last quarter’s numbers where growth was a sluggish 1.4%. Despite unprecedented monetary stimulus, the current growth rate is comparable to 2009 when the economy was reeling from the Global Financial Crisis.
Party Like It’s 1988
The Sydney property market continued to soar in November, with property prices rising 2.7%! Sydney houses had their strongest month since 1988, rising 3.1%. The Australian market is enjoying positive annual growth for the first time since April 2018, mostly thanks to lower interest rates, relaxed lending requirements and the defeat of Bill Shorten in the Federal Election.
Australia’s Arithmetic Below Average
Every three years the OECD issues its Programme for International Student Assessment, a measure that looks to evaluate the world’s education systems. For the first time since the inaugural report in 2000, Australian students are scoring below the OECD average in Maths. Our reading and science scores remain above average, however they have been steadily declining since 2000.
There has been plenty of hysteria in the media in response to these results. China comfortably topped the charts for each measure, prompting reports that Australian students are “years behind” their Chinese counterparts. This shouldn’t be too surprising. Most dedicated HSC students will study 2-3 hours a day in addition to their schooling, in China it isn’t uncommon to hear of students studying 16 hours a day in preparation for the notoriously difficult gaokao university entrance exam. International students overachieve at Australian universities, primarily because they work harder than Australian students. Visit your local university library at 11pm on any given Tuesday night and you’ll see!
Although there is plenty of room for improvement in the Australian education system, student welfare shouldn’t be compromised in the pursuits of higher results. Countries like China, Japan and Korea produce fantastic students, but the students are often under immense pressure, with teen suicide rates steadily increasing in recent years.
Cancelling the Word of the Year
As it turns out, words are important – it would be a challenge to deliver TW3 with hand gestures! Each year, new words arise or evolve to form a new meaning. Macquarie Dictionary selected cancel culture as their word of the year for 2019. Did you use any of the words below this year?
Stanford Brown Delivers Another Knockout
There’s a new boxing champion in the Stanford Brown office! After three months of gruelling training, our corporate relations superstar Marisa stepped into the ring and came away with an emphatic victory! As if evoking images of Muhammad Ali in his heyday wasn’t enough, she raised almost $7000 for Beyond Blue. A true champion!