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It takes a spark

By 2353NM

Former Prime Minister and Donald Trump wannabe Tony Abbott bobbed up again in the media recently. Apparently our world class response to COVID-19, driven by the Premiers and Chief Ministers was a hysterical reaction driven by health despots. Abbott, now a ‘distinguished fellow’ (their words, not mine) of the conservative ‘think tank’ the Institute of Public Affairs used his announcement of employment to promote his beliefs that would, in his view, save the Australian way of life.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently forced Sky News ‘to publish a correction to an ‘editorial’ by their ‘personality’ Alan Jones where he claimed that the Victorian Government severe lockdown in the middle of 2020 to snuff out the community transmission of COVID-19 was excessive

“I thought a pandemic was a disease which was prevalent over a whole country or the world,” Mr Jones said.

“I think that spells four words; catastrophic state government failure.”

“We have never seen this incompetence in the history of Australian government.”

The three-paragraph clarification of Jones remarks have been added to the editorial on Skynews’ website, although the original statements remain online. It advises that Jones’ claim of a report proving that masks and lockdowns were ineffective were wrong as he misrepresented the evidence presented in the source journals.

It’s not the first time Abbott, Jones or any other politician or media ‘personality’ has attempted to fire up public indignation by skewing the evidence presented. In the same editorial

I’d suggest [Andrews is] fighting a virus with the wrong response,” Jones said. “Listening to the wrong experts and trashing everything in our wake.

Notwithstanding the obvious – extremely sick or dying people aren’t usually out and about spending money in the community – Abbott and Jones are, in the words of Monty Python, pining for the fjords of a land when the establishment had all the power and, when asked to jump, the minions (that’s the rest of us) asked ‘how high’?

Things aren’t going well for the establishment. Apart from pesky laws requiring equality between all people, questioning of the establishment’s authority, the images of American insurgents storming the US Capitol seemingly at the request of the US President and the demonstration that alternatives to fossil fuels are capable of equal or better performance and economics, it seems that the establishment finance system is also now under attack.

One of the tools in the Investment Bankers shed is the art of ‘short selling

Here’s how it works. Essentially, you sell before you buy, and like any trade, you hope to sell at a higher price than your purchase price. It’s just the timing is reversed. To do so, they have to borrow or rent the shares from someone, usually a big insurance company or investment fund.

That makes it a risky trade. Because unlike a purchase, you can’t just sit on your investment indefinitely. You have to hand those rented shares back.

Let’s say that our Investment Banker (let’s call him Jonathan) has sold 1 million Widgets Pty Ltd shares Jonathan’s firm don’t own at $10 each. As it usually takes 2 days to transfer the ownership of a share, Jonathan has to rent or borrow 1 million shares in Widgets Pty Ltd at a price under $9 a share – so costs such as his salary, office space and so on can be covered.

However Jonathan would have a problem if he couldn’t find enough shares to ‘borrow’ at a lower price than his sale price. As he has contracted to deliver 1 million shares to a purchaser for $10 a share, if he couldn’t find the shares available at a lower price, he would have to pay whatever it took to purchase the required shares to fulfil his contract. This could cost serious money.

In January, a group of people on the ‘Wall Street Bets’ subgroup on Internet site Reddit gamed the system. They found a computer game shop in the USA called GameStop which was publicly listed (you could buy shares in the company) and poorly regarded by the Investment Banking community. As reported in The New Daily

The simplest explanation for what happened is that a bunch of hyper-online mischief-makers in Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum – a clan of self-described degenerates with user names like “dumbledoreRothIRA” and “Coldcutcombo69” – decided it would be funny and righteous (and maybe even profitable, though that part was less important) to execute a “short squeeze” by pushing up the price of GameStop’s stock, entrapping the big-money hedge funds that had bet against it.

The strategy worked. Within two days, GameStop was the most heavily traded stock in the world; Elon Musk and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got behind the revolt; and WallStreetBets users were posting screenshots of their suddenly inflated account balances.

The scheme’s originator, whose Reddit user name is unprintable, claims to have turned an initial investment of $US50,000 into a windfall of more than $40 million. One of the hedge funds that had shorted GameStop’s stock, Melvin Capital, had to get a $2.75 billion bailout from two other investors after it was hammered with huge losses.

By early February, Gamestop’s share price, which reached $483 in January had sunk back to $90 and the similarly fuelled rally on silver had run out of steam as well. As the author of the article in The New Daily observes

While watching the GameStop drama, I’ve been reflecting on what author Martin Gurri calls “the revolt of the public.” Gurri writes that the internet has empowered ordinary citizens by giving them new information and tools, which they then use to discover the flaws in the systems and institutions that govern their lives. Once they’ve discovered these shortcomings, he writes, these citizens often rebel, tearing down elites and dominant institutions out of anger at having been lied to and withheld from.

Which is where the likes of Abbott, the IPA and Skynews need to be careful. Their audience is the establishment and a lot of it is either ageing or responsive to counter argument by others. Considerable numbers of the ‘minions’ are coming to an understanding they also have power and can exercise control, should they choose to mobilise it. While the Reddit subgroup members didn’t win in the end – as the ‘market establishment’ enforced new rules to ensure a ‘short squeeze’ doesn’t happen again, the ‘proof of concept’ is out there that there are ways to manipulate the financial system, even if you’re not part of the establishment.

Like a bushfire – all it takes is a spark that is given time to develop. The Abbotts and Jones’ of this world do need to worry as their control is slipping day by day.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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14 comments

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  1. John Ogden

    As Joseph Stiglitz said in The Great Divide; “An economic and political system that does not deliver for most citizens is one that is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually, faith in democracy and the market economy will erode, and the legitimacy of existing institutions and arrangement will be called into question.”
    This is what we are now seeing as the seeds of revolt by groups such as ‘Wall Street Bets’. There are more in the wings juts waiting.

  2. Michael Taylor

    I’m afraid that news and opinion will never be the same again. How are we ever going to emerge from the cesspit of lies that are spread daily by the likes of the Murdoch media and (ex) politicians like Donald Trump?

    There must be a lot of money in spreading lies, propaganda and fake news. So much, in fact, that the likes of Murdoch are enamelled to it.

  3. Neilw

    Abbott has his own personal hell to look forward to – and he well and truly earned it.

  4. Kangaroo Jack

    @Michael T did you have a chance to see Kevin Rudd at the press club today.

    I’ve finally realised we lost a monumental mind with few competitors when we saw him stabbed and ditched.

  5. Gangstas Paradise

    @Kangaroo Jack and how lucky was Australia to have Julia Gillard to put Labor back on track.

  6. Mark

    Yes Rudd has a fine mind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Unfortunately, Rudd and Democracy are incompatible because he is the only one who isn’t a fool. And if you are in any doubt – just ask him.

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    Australian media or ‘media production line’ act how the ‘powers that be’ want them to act i.e. 24/7 purveyors of infotainment and embedded political agitprop for permanent campaigning to support the LNP (with too many relationships within the hollowed out political, media and corporate bubble); if not they can be subjected to inquiries (ABC), legal action or simply leave the profession or Australia…..

    Starts with an array of nativist libertarian and/or conservative think tanks (including the IPA at the apex, affiliated with Koch related via AtlasNetwork), ignore or change constraints on hollowed out legacy media, selected academics to produce ‘research’, promotion of same research and nativist conservative talking points in media, direct lobbying of MPs and committees who do the legal side (on substantive policy e.g. watering down or nobbling environmental regulation, NBN, Family Court etc.), while media use PR techniques to confuse and disorient voters, i.e. dog whistled nativist conservative content.

    Jane Mayer investigative journalist of ‘Dark Money’ fame sketched out the ‘architecture’ observed in the US which is as bad or worse in Australia, especially as we cop the main PR arm masquerading as a ‘news outlet’ in NewsCorp that ‘manages’ Australia, with many willing and unwilling accomplices.

    This environment manages to make the LNP etc. appear ‘owned’ and compliant when now lacking a grounded membership and policy making constituency or membership..

  8. Kangaroo Jack

    @GP totally agree. In fact she was with Greg last name misspelt Hunt the other day and I commented at the time that she was the last honest PM we had.

  9. Terence Mills

    If Lachlan Murdoch had a look at the daily Nielsen audience ratings for Australia he would probably have to concede [not that he or his Dad ever would] that the business model for Sky News is a massive business failure and they would attract a bigger audience by just running repeats of Gilligan’s Island or, dare I say, The Muppet Show to which many have likened their nightly offerings .

    On an average night when MAFS [if you don’t know what that acronym stands for : congratulations !] is attracting over one million viewers and the Oprah interview with those two people, whose name I cannot bring myself to mention, brings in close to 1.8 million in Australia alone, the spruikers at Sky are flat out getting an audience of one hundred thousand : and bear in mind that Foxtel have a deal with many clubs and pubs, also airports and parliament house to have their screens locked on Foxtel/Sky.

    This is an average evening for the Sky-after-Dark Muppet Show : Credlin — 71,000 : The Bolt Report — 64,000 : Paul Murray Live — 59,000 : Alan Jones 60,000

    Jones was hired to lift the numbers but the transition from AM radio in Sydney to national pay televisions (with free to air in regional areas via WIN) just isn’t translating to bums on the couch.

    Shut it down Lachlan and put these unfortunate wannabies out of their misery.

    One interesting aside is that the Sky offering is also available on YouTube and that means it can be streamed anywhere on the planet. Recent analysis has shown that when the likes of Paul Murray start with conspiracy theories attacking Trump’s loss of the Presidency or Jones starts on undermining the science on COVID the audience numbers shoot up to around a million – largely streaming in the USA where they are tapping into the traditional Fox News right wing nut jobs – still a paltry audience on a global scale.

  10. Gangey1959

    History has documented proof of where “Let them eat cake” eneded up in frogland.
    The mad monk and his puppetmasters are no wiser than any of the heads that rolled from madame guillotine, and in these days of instant information, the massesare starting to see through the fog and bullshit.
    Our “master” marketer is beginning to sink into the mire of his own making, not because of the billions of dollars stolen from Australia’s taxpayers to fund election imbalances and billionaire lifestyles, but because he has refused to investigate criminal acts, Rape is rape, mr scottyfromadvertising. Investigate it, and prosecute/clear as per the results of that investigation.
    I haven’t heard much from the shreiking kettle that is one a jones on the matters of Ms Higgins or the (soon to be ex?) ag. Is this because he is aware that normal Australians of EVERY persuasion see rape as a crime, and it is only criminals who do not?
    When Parliament resumes next week, a Motion of No Confidence against the incumbents would be a great start.
    If an early election is forced on our dealer in charge, the public will see the true colours of the murdoch muckrakers, but maybe this time the battleground will NOT be one of moronscums chosing.

    VIVA LA REVOLUCION

  11. Michael Taylor

    No, I missed that, Jack.

    I liked both Kevin and Julia. They tried to govern for the average Australian, though those people who listened to Abbott or the Murdoch media would never have known it.

    I forget the exact details of the particular policy my department was working on except that it was to give financial assistance to those receiving Youth Allowance who lived in remote areas. When the legislation was introduced into Parliament it was defeated by the Abbott opposition (with the help of a couple of independents).

    The very same evening Tony Abbott went squealing to the Murdoch media that the government was doing nothing to help Youth Allowance recipients who live in remote areas.

    The lies and hypocrisy was deflating for those of us who worked on the policy. And that the Murdoch media would go by the word of Abbott instead of doing a bit of fact checking, well, that was just so typical.

  12. New England Cocky

    @Michael Taylor 2022PM: That is why so many thinking people read AIMN, to avoid the lies, propaganda and fake news.

    I am advised that SKY has about 3% of the Australian audience, so perhaps the optimal solution is to reduce that considerably, preferably to zero. This would be best achieved by making all political donations to political pressure groups limited to natural persons, limited to $1,000 per person on a rolling year basis and reportable 24/7/365 within 24 hours, listing the donor, their corporate interests & holdings.

    It would be nice if we could organise a media black out for Toxic RAbbott and Alan ”Pottymouth” Jones.

  13. Geoff Andrews

    Gangstas & Mark.
    Good to see the spark of factionalism is alive in the light on the hill.
    Let’s give some succour to the poor ol’ Libs by slagging off at our own.
    Rudd, like those other bastards Whitlam & Hawke (and you can chuck in Keating too), were just too intelligent and unforgivably arrogant for the Party’s good. They may have defeated popular Tory governments but they just made the other faction feel ….. inadequate?
    Another common trait however was that, although they may have come from different sides of the tracks, their core values & philosophy were solid, with any “faults” on the periphery.
    Which is more than you can say for the other mob who can be characterized by the immortal aphorism: “beauty is only be skin deep but ugly goes right to the bone”.

  14. Gangstas Paradise

    The majority of media around the world can now be found in supermarkets alongside Woman’s Weekly, New Idea etc and that’s exactly where they belong.

    Such a diverse range of ownership …. worlds richest man owns the Washington Post, Lord Rothermere owns British media alongside Murdochs media, The Guardian owned by a Trust etc ….. fools people into thinking they might be getting unbiased, fact checked news.

    The reality is so messed up it allows those with the money and power to do whatever they want.

    And across the world everyday people are just hoping they will be able to feed themselves and family.

    Pretty depressing but it can be changed, not be attacking the minor players but always going after they top player.

    Morrison has many questions to answer and answer them he must.

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