Friday, October 18, 2019

"Not politically toxic" - new Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed reignites corporate tax cut debate

Newly-appointed Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed has revived hopes for eventual cut to corporate tax dismissing concerns that a renewed campaign would be politically toxic.


The former veteran chief executive of the business software firm MYOB concedes that cutting corporate tax is off the agenda of the Morrison government but believes a lower rate will be necessary for Australia to remain globally competitive. 

Mr Reed tells ABC's Peter Ryan he does not think the government is anti-business despite "big stick" government intervention in the energy sector.

Business Council of Australian president Tim Reed   source: supplied

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ripped off on your super? The Tax Office is targeting bosses who hold back super guarantee

Bosses who deliberately withhold compulsory superannuation payments to their staff are being warned by the Australian Tax Office to end the rip-off or face steep fines. 

Reminder emails are being sent to to 4,000 employers with a track record of late super payments and another 500 bosses who fail to pay the right amount.


The crackdown will target known offenders in the super rip-off including cafes, restaurants, clubs supermarkets, tradie subcontractors in the construction industry but also architecture, legal and advertising firms. 

Deputy Tax Commissioner James O'Halloran tells ABC's Peter Ryan that dodgy employers should fess up for face audits and penalties.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Treasurer maintains budget surplus is safe despite steep IMF downgrade

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he's committed to delivering a budget surplus despite a steep downgrade to Australia's economic growth forecasts. 

The International Monetary Fund has slashed Australia's outlook to just 1.7 percent in 2019 from earlier more bullish predictions. 

Also Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says the weak global outlook and low interest rate is making life difficult for banks and customers.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Australian growth forecasts slashed as IMF warns of synchonised global downturn

US China trade tensions and other geopolitical flashpoints have forced the International Monetary Fund to dramatically downgrade its global economic growth forecasts. 

Read the story here

Australia's 2019 growth has been slashed to 1.7 percent as the IMF sees global output falling from 3.8 percent to 3 percent. 

Read the IMF report here

The IMF has also warned central banks to go beyond cutting interest rates and that monetary policy is "not the only game in town". 

ABC's Peter Ryan says despite the warning, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is sticking with his commitment to delivering a budget surplus.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Reserve Bank weighed refueled property bubble risk before cutting rates, minutes reveal

The Reserve Bank has signaled that further cuts to official interest rates remain a live option despite the risk of refueling a property bubble in Sydney and Melbourne. 

In the minutes from it's October meeting when the cash rate was cut to a record low of 0.75 percent, the RBA board noted that "the housing market and other asset prices might be overly inflated by lower net rest rates". 

ABC's Peter Ryan says there's a 41 percent chances of another rate cut when the RBA board meets on Melbourne Cup day.

Consumers buried under "sludge" of fineprint with disclosure no longer the "silver bullet", ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester warns

Banks and financial services companies that bury consumers in a complex "sludge" of disclosure and fine print face a crackdown by the corporate regulator. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has warned that consumers are exposed to greater harm with some companies using the cover of disclosure to deliberately bamboozle with a deluge of legalese that pushes some into inappropriate financial products. 

ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester told the ABC's "AM" program that disclosure could no longer be relied upon as "the silver bullet" to force companies to keep consumers fully informed and better protected.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Businessman Graham Bradley worries about potential gov't "big stick" intervention on banks in ACCC inquiry

Leading businessman Graham Bradley says foreign investors will be wary about yet another inquiry in the banking system. 

The former Business Council president and current chairman of HSBC Australia says he's worried that in addition to intervening in the energy sector, the federal government's ACCC banking probe could create sovereign risk in the banking system.

Here's the interview from The World Today

Green energy to dominate by power grid by 2040 as ageing stations retire

The government's energy policy adviser says renewable energy sources will dominate the national power grid by 2040 as ageing coal-fired stations are retired. 

"Designing the grid of the future" - blueprint from AEMC

Australian Energy Marketing Commission chairman John Pierce says regulators are now planning for the transition to renewables which will see the equivalent of today's national energy market coming from renewable sources by 2040. 

John Pierce speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, October 11, 2019

ASIC warns self-funded super scheme "inappropriate" for unsophisticated investors. I speak with ASIC commissioner Danielle Press

Inexperienced investors considering a self-managed superannuation fund could be risk losing all or some of their retirement nest egg in the event of a global economic shock, the corporate regulator has warned. 

"designing the grid of the future" - blueprint from the AEMC

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission says the potential toxic mix of near zero interest rates and low inflation means even professional advisers are struggling to make a return and that future and current retirees need to be "particularly aware of potential downsides" that might make self-managed funds inappropriate. 

ASIC commissioner Danielle Press speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dodgy insolvency practices in small business ombudsman inquiry's cross hairs

Insolvency practitioners who escaped the scrutiny of last year's financial services royal commission will be targeted in a wide-ranging new inquiry by the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. 

Announcing the inquiry this morning, ombudsman Kate Carnell said there were questions about whether the current insolvency system encourages practitioners to restructure and turn a business around rather than sending it into administration. 

Ms Carnell told ABC's Peter Ryan that the Royal Commission was "a lost opportunity"

The Australian Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association has slammed the inquiry as yet another one with narrow terms of reference.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Investors scared off by "big stick" power plays in energy sector, Grattan Institute report warns

The Grattan Institute is warning that "big stick" intervention by Australian governments is discouraging investment in new energy infrastructure. 

Energy policy director Tony Wood tells ABC's Peter Ryan that despite good intentions, doing nothing might have been a better strategy with foreign investors now nervous about potential political meddling in a supposedly free market.

Read the Grattan Institute report here

Monday, October 7, 2019

Nine in almost total control of Macquarie Media - but fund manager Geoff Wilson still unhappy

Nine Entertainment has seized 92 percent of Macquarie Media and says it will compulsorily acquire the rest if small shareholders continue to resist. 

Wilson Asset Management chairman Geoff Wilson is holding out and says the $1.46 on offer is low ball and not in the interests of shareholders. 

However, Mr Wilson tells ABC's Peter Ryan he is in a difficult position given that key shareholders John Singleton, Alan Jones and Mark Carnegie have now accepted the offer.

Amazon cloud pervasive in your life - from "the flying kangaroo" to koala genetics

Expectations are high these days for internet services that come via the "cloud" whether it's calling an Uber or watching the latest Netflix show. 

One of the world's biggest cloud providers Amazon Web Services is working with Qantas to help fine tune plans to fly non-stop to New York while working with Australian researchers on the genetics of koalas. 

Amazon's chief evangelist Jeff Barr spoke in Sydney recently with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Amazon chief evangelist Jeff Barr (right) in the studio with ABC's Peter Ryan

Friday, October 4, 2019

Commonwealth Bank faces criminal charges over CommInsure cold-calling scandal

Commonwealth Bank is facing 87 criminal charges over unscrupulous practices in its life insurance arm CommInsure. 

It's the first major bank to face criminal charges following the banking royal commission. CommInsure has been charged with "hawking" for trying to sell insurance products through unsolicited phone calls.

READ ASIC's announcement

The charges are not directly related to the Royal Commission as the allegations did not feature as a case study. 

But ABC's Peter Ryan says the allegations reflect a key theme of misconduct revealed during the year-long inquiry.

Mental illness costing corporate Australia $60b a year, Shared Value Project report warns. I speak with former ACCC chairman Professor Allan Fels

Australia is in the midst of a mental health crisis and it's touching all areas including the corporate sector which is already under pressure from a slowing economy.

A report out today from the Shared Value Project says mental illness costs the economy 60 billion dollars a year and for business alone, the bill includes 13 billion dollars in lost wages and less productivity.

The former A-triple-C chairman Professor Allan Fels- who's daughter lives with schizophrenia - is currently advising the Royal Commission into Victoria's mental health system.

Professor Fels speaks with the ABC's  Peter Ryan.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Potential "mortgage timebomb" as APRA changes definition of an owner-occupier

Banking Day 2 October 2019

More than 100,000 mortgages potentially face rate hikes after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority reclassified some owner-occupied mortgages as investment properties. 

Under a new statistical collection system, APRA says the definition of an "owner occupier loan" can now only include only a borrower's primary place of residence. 

Banking Day associate editor George Lekakis crunched the numbers and says banks could be forced to increase their capital requirements given the additional exposure to more risky investor mortgages. 

He tells ABC's Peter Ryan that Westpac is the most exposed of the major banks.

Australian shares tumble on fears that US recession could spark global downturn

Around $75 billion in value has been erased from the Australian sharemarket in the past two days as fallout from the US China trade war mounts. 

Investors sold heavily after US factory activity hit its lowest level in a decade sparking fresh fears that the US could fall into a recession.

Here's my report from The World Today

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Retirees warned to resist risky investments as bank deposit rates fall

With official interest rates cut to 0.75 percent, retirees are hurting even more as returns on their nest eggs continue to head south. 

People worried about falling yields from banks deposits are being warned to think carefully before jumping into risky investments that might land them in financial hot water.

Here's my report from The World Today

As rates head towards zero, RBA boss gets flak from aggrieved depositors

Reserve Bank governor Dr Philip Lowe has taken another jab at the federal government, signalling that the central bank's rate-cutting strategy needs more help. 

Dr Lowe repeated his call for more infrastructure spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Dr Lowe confirmed he's deluged with letters from pensioners unhappy that falling rates continue to hurt bank deposits.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Monday, September 30, 2019

Rate cut could refuel housing bubble analyst Martin North warns as UBS "liar loans" survey worsens

With the Reserve Bank widely expected to cut interest rates again tomorrow, a top analyst is warning that a dangerous new housing bubble is building as lending standards fall. 

As the cash rates heads 0.75 percent, the "liar loan" survey from the the UBS investment bank is showing that more people are falsifying their loan applications. 

Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics and Dr Timo Henckel from the ANU shadow Reserve Bank board speak with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Tax dodgers warned they risk an "audit" more than ever as ATO ramps up scrutiny

The Australian Taxation Office has ramped up its warnings about much-feared "audits" and big potential fines for any taxpayer who knowingly lodges dodgy claims. 

READ the story here 

The ATO says it will be scrutinising every tax return lodged for the past financial year deploying updated hi-tech cross checking systems to weed out inaccurate or outright fraudulent deductions. 

Assistant Tax Commissioner Karen Foat tells ABC's Peter Ryan some tax evaders even create elaborate web sites to create fake work records and receipts.

Assistant ATO commissioner Karen Foat (source: supplied)

But taxpayers who've experienced a much-feared audit have another side to the story.

Those who contacted the ABC after this morning's story are less than glowing about the ATO's tactics:

"More evidence of going after soft targets, the little guy, to distract us from the real tax evaders - big business. Old fat white men want to maintain the status quo at all costs." 

"The government pressures the ATO to make noises that they are clamping down on tax evasion. The figures quoted of savings made and unpaid tax that could have been paying for public infrastructure is small bikkies compared to what the big corporations are avoiding." 

"Tell her (Karen Foat)  to focus on all those dodgy tradies doing jobs for cash and SMEs "running expenses through the business"

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Urgent reforms needed to power grid currently unable to cope with rise of solar and electric cars, warns gov't energy adviser

The Federal Government's energy adviser is urging dramatic reforms to power distribution networks so they can cope with growing rooftop solar use and the rise of electric vehicles.

The Australian Energy Market Commission wants decisions made about a "grid of the future" that can handle flows from renewables rather than billions of dollars spent on new substations, poles and wires. 

The recommendations come as energy regulators worry about the risk of blackouts with ageing coal-fired power stations reaching the end of their lives. 

AEMC chairman John Pierce speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Rate cut likely next week as RBA hostage to global headwinds and local slowdown

Source: Thomson Reuters "RBA WATCH"

Reserve Bank governor Dr Philip Lowe has signalled that interest rates will be cut to a new record low of 0.75 percent next week. 

Dr Lowe has blamed foreign central banks for laying the groundwork for near zero interest rates by early next year.

Ernst & Young chief economist Jo Masters speaks discusses the global and local headwinds with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Telco complaints fall, but longer wait to resolve gripes in "always on" world. I speak with Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones.

First the good news - complaints about phone and internet services are down 21 percent in the last financial year. 

The bad news is that getting a complaint resolved is taking a lot longer with only half of the gripes sorted out within 60 days. 

The mixed messages in the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman's annual report confirm the complexity of high expectations about internet quality and rising complaints about billing and customer service.

It's also a headache for ombudsman Judi Jones who's speaking from Melbourne with the ABC's senior business correspondent Peter Ryan.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

PayPal Australia transactions linked to potential abuse by child sex exploitation rings; financial crime agency orders external audit

Digital payments giant PayPal Australia will undertake an urgent external audit of its global money transfers business on suspicions it is being used by child exploitation rings in Asia. 

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre says it is investigating PayPal's compliance with international funds transfer obligations to or from Australia and singled out child sex exploitation as a risk that prompted the regulatory intervention. 

Read the story here

AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Source: Austrac statement 23 September 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Financial crime agency hits small foreign exchange dealer with $252,000 fine over potential money laundering exposure

Source: AUSTRAC media release 10 September 2019

Senior Business Correspondent Peter Ryan

Australia's financial intelligence agency has fined a small foreign currency operator $252,000 for failing to report international money transfers that could leave it exposed to money laundering and terror financing.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) says it is working with the Sydney-based Compass Global Holdings on concerns that it does not have adequate systems and processes in place to identify and manage money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

Compass Global chief executive Andrew Su told the ABC the company is working with AUSTRAC but is confident there is no exposure to breaches of anti-money laundering or counter-terror financing laws.

"We had a technical issue. Our technical provider failed us. But we are responsible," Mr Su said.

"AUSTRAC has been very helpful is working with us to resolve the issues and we have all the information relating to the transactions."

Mr Su said Compass Global would be paying the fine.

While the $252,000 infringement notice is tiny compared to the $700 million penalty paid by the Commonwealth Bank for 53,700 breaches, it highlights to risks facing small operators and AUSTRAC's constant scrutiny of suspicious transactions.

In a statement, AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose said the agency's surveillance is critical in protecting to the Australia from serious crime like money laundering.

"AUSTRAC is working with Compass, to ensure they understand their compliance obligations. Where businesses don't comply with the law, AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take action to protect Australia's financial system and the community from criminal activity," Ms Rose said.

"Money laundering funds and enables terrorism and serious organised crime that causes harm to Australians such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, child exploitation and illegal firearm sales."

Last month, AUSTRAC announced a crackdown on unregistered money transfer dealers and warned of heavy fines, enforceable undertakings and Federal Court action.

In 2018/2019, individuals and businesses reported $60 billion of funds transfer instructions and received by people in Australia.

Money transfer dealers, banks and casinos are required to submit international funds transfer instructions to AUSTRAC to track potential exposure of money laundering and terror financing.

Follow Peter Ryan on Twitter @peter_f_ryan

"Just get on with it" - Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin calls end on Brexit soap opera

The Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin says the UK just needs to "get on with" a likely hard exit from the European Union. 

Mr Estlin is visiting Australia to sell the message that life will go on after Brexit, while admitting the uncertainties are making foreign investors nervous given the likely economic fallout if the UK leaves without a deal. 

Mr Estlin - who's a self confessed "remainer" - speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Peter Estlin, City of London Lord Mayer (supplied)

Gender balance push slips with CEO equality 80 years away, just 2 women in 25 new ASX200 roles. I speak with CEW president Sue Morphet

Gender equality among Australia's top chief executive ranks could be 80 years away, with the latest survey showing female appointments is going backwards and some companies have no women at all in their leadership teams. 

Read the story here

The annual census by Chief Executive Women (CEW), which represents 560 of Australia's most senior women, slams "slow progress" in achieving gender balance with 17 companies still having no women in their executive leadership teams. 

CEW president Sue Morphet speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Trade surplus down to $7.3b caps week's economic data deluge

Australia's trade surplus dips to $7.29 billion in July, falling back from a revised $7.98 billion record high in June. 

The softer than expected result adds to evidence that exports are propping up Australia's economic growth. 

Read the ABS statistics 

Myer chief executive John King says he doesn't see a recession on the horizon after concerns that the cautious consumer cut a slice from June quarter GDP.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Australia's recession-free record in tact but growth at decade low

Australia's economy has slowed to its most sluggish pace since 2009, when the GFC slammed the brakes on GDP growth. In seasonally adjusted terms, 

GDP expanded by 0.5 per cent over the June quarter, or 1.4 per cent for the year — equal to the worst annual growth recorded in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in the September quarter of 2009. 

ABC's Peter Ryan goes through the numbers.

Soft GDP result tipped but 28 year recession record safe for now

The latest economic growth figures out today are likely to put pressure on Australia's ability to maintain its 28 year year recession-free record. 

Economists are tipping GDP growth of 0.5 percent in the June quarter and 1.4 percent over the year. 

However, while exports continue to prop up the economy, there are worrying signs that the consumer is becoming more cautious. 

EY chief economist Jo Masters speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

"Strike to save the planet" - Atlassian co-chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes urges staff to be activists in climate crisis fight

Global tech company Atlassian will support its staff with special paid leave to participate in the so-called "climate strike" later this month. 

Atlassian's outspoken co-chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes says climate change is now an "existential threat", backing climate activism as the new corporate social responsibility and critical to the survival of capitalism. 

While joining the strike is voluntary, Atlassian staff will be able to use all or part of a week's special volunteering leave to protest the lack of action by world leaders.

Mike Cannon-Brookes singled out Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison when he spoke in Sydney with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Atlassian co-chief executive, Mike Cannon-Brookes (supplied)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Economy softening though 28 recession-free run not over yet. Dr Timo Henckel of ANU is softening up students who've never known a recession

Official economic growth figures scheduled for Wednesday are tipped to show the slowest pace of expansion since the depths of the global financial crisis a decade ago. 

Given Australia's 28 years of world-beating record of growth, economists are starting to warn that an official recession is starting to look more likely in the year ahead. 

Dr Timo Henckel, chairman of the RBA shadow board at Australian National University, speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, August 30, 2019

LISTEN: NBN on time, on budget as chief executive Stephen Rue rejects 5G concerns

The company building the National Broadband Network has repeated the $51 billion project will come in on time and on budget.

The rollout of the NBN is now in its critical final year but continues to face criticism that emerging 5G mobile technologies might become more dominant for consumers and business. 

But NBN Co boss Stephen Rue remains upbeat and says the network will soon be contributing billions of dollars to the nation's economy.

Here's my report from The World Today

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Virgin Australia to slash 750 jobs, review flight network, after posting $349m loss

Virgin Australia is planning to cut 750 head office and corporate roles to slash $75 million a year in costs, as it seeks to rebound from a $349 million full-year loss. 

The airline also blamed rising fuel costs and a lower Australian dollar for its worsening financial performance. 

The airline's new boss, Paul Scurrah, says he'd been forced to make tough but necessary decisions.

Here's my report from The World Today

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Small business tax dodgers continue to fuel "black economy" - I speak with ATO deputy commissioner

Tax cheats running small businesses continue to gouge billions of dollars from the economy by putting in dodgy expense claims and demanding cash-in-the hand transactions. 

The Australian Taxation Office says while almost 90 percent of small businesses pay income tax voluntarily, the most recent figures show $7.1 billion went into the "black economy" in 2015-2016 through straight-out tax evasion but also the use of software that can disguise  transactions. 

ATO deputy commissioner Deborah Jenkins speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Source: Australian Taxation Office

Shady money transfer operators risk money laundering, terror links warns financial crime agency chief Nicole Rose

Australia's anti-money laundering regulator has launched a blitz on unregistered money transfer dealers who risk being exploited by sophisticated criminal organisations. 

Nicole Rose  - chief executive of the Australian Transaction Reports & Analysis Centre or Austrac - warns small home-based operators are exposed to human trafficking, child exploitation, illegal firearms sales and drug networks. 

In a rare interview, Ms Rose also told AM there's been a 70 percent surge in "self reporting" by the finance sector after the Commonwealth Bank was fined 700 million dollars last year for almost 54-thousand money laundering breaches.

Ms Rose has also confirmed that while Austrac is probing money laundering allegations relating to Crown casinos, she's yet to see evidence of criminal activity

Nicole Rose speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Industry super forces 2030 emissions target on key infrastructure assets

Some of Australia's top infrastructure companies have agreed to cut their carbon emissions by up to 100 percent by 2030 as industry superannuation weighs in on climate change risks.

IFM investors, which manages more than $140 billion for industry super funds, has convinced companies it owns or co-owns to increase their use of electric cars, LED lighting and rooftop solar systems. 

Companies cutting back on their emissions include giant energy network Ausgrid, Melbourne Airport, Brisbane Airport and NSW Ports. 

IFM's director of responsible investments Chris Newton speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, August 23, 2019

"Like going to the casino" - ASIC moves to ban risky binary options and to restrict CFDs. I speak with ASIC commissioners Cathie Armour.

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission is moving to ban two complex financial products where 80 percent of the time mum and dad investors end up losing. 

Binary options are legitimately offered to consumers as "all or nothing" bets but experts say it's like going to the casino where the house almost always wins. 

Read the ASIC consultation here

In addition to binary options, ASIC wants to ban CFDs - another exotic product where investors bet on movements in a share price even though the odds are stacked against them. 

ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hong Kong protests rattle Qantas as travellers change plans; 6.5pc fall in full year profit; CEO Alan Joyce unveils test non-stop flights to London and New York

Qantas has confirmed that escalating protests in Hong Kong are starting to hurt its business. 

The national carrier is now looking at sending smaller planes to Hong Kong as tourists and business travellers consider staying away. 

Qantas has reported a six percent fall in full year profit to 891 million dollars after its fuel bill surged by more than 600 million dollars. 

Chief executive Alan Joyce is also planning to trial non stop flights to New York and London as the airline navigates growing geopolitical turbulence. 

Mr Joyce speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Gender discrimination on the rise as pay gap narrows. I speak with KPMG Australia chairman Alison Kitchen.

Rising gender discrimination is now the single biggest factor in driving a pay wedge between men and women, according to a report out today. 

Research by the advisory firm KPMG has found that "stubborn gender stereotypes" continue to harm the careers of women especially those who opt to care for children and elderly family members.

Read the online story

The study, conducted for the Diversity Council of Australia and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency suggests targets or quotas could be required to boost the number of women in leadership positions.

KPMG Australia chairman Alison Kitchen speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

BHP boss Andrew Mackenzie says US China trade tensions not hurting commodities "just yet"; Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton inherits $444.5 million full year loss

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie says the US China trade war is not yet hurting demand for its commodities. 

But Mr Mackenzie says a prolonged trade dispute could have an impact, warning that nationalism was getting in the way of capitalism. 

Also today, Seven West Media post a loss of $444.5 million in the full year with writedowns the value of its TV licence and newspaper mastheads. 

Chief executive James Warburton said all options were on the table and did not rule out a merger with a major player such as News Corporation.

Here's my coverage from The World Today

Monday, August 19, 2019

Hong Kong on brink of recession as protests hit economy. I speak with Enda Curran, Bloomberg chief Asia economics correspondent in Hong Kong.

The escalating protests in Hong Kong - in addition to fallout from the US China trade war - are likely to take the special administrative region to the brink of recession. 

Hong Kong's economic growth contracted in the most recent quarter and the government has announced a US$2 billion stimulus package to keep consumers and businesses spending. 

With fears rising that China will intervene to break up the protests, Hong Kong businesses are making contingency plans raising the prospect that money could exit the local economy most likely to Asia's other financial hub of Singapore. 

Enda Curran, chief Asia economics correspondent with Bloomberg in Hong Kong , speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Seven West CEO Tim Worner in surprise resignation, career tainted by Amber Harrison affair

Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner has unexpectedly resigned with chairman Kerry Stokes declaring "now is the time for change". 

Mr Worner, whose leadership at Seven was tainted by his affair with former executive assistant Amber Harrison, will be replaced by James Warburton a one time Seven executive who defected to be Network Ten managing director.

Read the story here

Listen to my analysis on The World Today

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Telstra profit dives, cuts dividend, $600 m NBN impact. I speak with Telstra chief executive Andy Penn

Telstra has reported a 40 per cent collapse in its full-year profit to $2.15 billion. 

But the result was roughly in line with market expectations given the ongoing $600 million hit to earnings caused by the NBN rollout. 

Telstra shares fell 1.4 percent with falls amplified by the broader sharemarket plunge. 

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

NBN will be complete by mid-2020 and within $51b budget, says CEO Stephen Rue

The $51 billion National Broadband Network will be completed on time and within budget by mid-2020, according to the project's chief executive Stephen Rue. 

But Mr Rue is defying critics of the NBN with strong financial results for the year to June 30, which show the network is now 85 per cent complete compared to 75 per cent a year ago. 

Stephen Rue speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

READ the story here

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hong Kong unrest risking "flight of capital" as Hang Seng plunges

The fast-moving events in Hong Kong have the potential to derail the region's lucrative economy and investors worried by speculation that China is poised to cross the border and intervene. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Hong Kong's main share index has plunged eight percent since June amid rising concerns that money is leaving the region in "a flight of capital".

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

ASIC defeated in landmark responsible lending case against Westpac. ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes says regulator "takes it on the chin".

The Federal Court has dismissed ASIC's responsible lending case against Westpac and ordered the regulator to pay the bank's costs. 

ASIC had alleged that Westpac breached responsible lending laws on up to 262,000 home loan approvals made using an automated process that relied on the Household Expenditure Measure benchmark, rather than using each applicant's individually assessed living cost. 

ASIC commissioner Sean Hughes tells ABC's Peter Ryan the regulator takes the defeat on the chin but will continue to fearlessly pursue breaches of corporate law.

Source: Justice Nye Perram - ASIC vs Westpac ruling 13 August 19

Monday, August 12, 2019

"No retail recesssion yet" - JB Hi Fi boss Richard Murray upbeat but cautious

JB Hi Fi remains upbeat in the face of a "retail recession" with chief executive Richard Murray cautiously optimistic. 

The electronics and music retailer has posted a 7 percent growth in profit to $250 million on the back of $7.1 billion in sales. 

Mr Murray told ABC's Peter Ryan that consumers are spending despite caution in the leadup to the election.

Households saving not spending as financial comfort gauge shows stress

Sluggish wages growth and worries about a weakening jobs market are dragging down financial comfort levels in households, according to a report from ME Bank out today. 

Despite 28 years of unbroken economic growth, Australians are nervous about their personal wealth with the housing correction taking a toll on confidence. 

ME Bank economist Jeff Oughton speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Rates could to go zero, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe concedes

Reserve Bank governor Dr Philip Lowe has conceded that interest rates will stay lower for longer, and could even go to zero. 

Speaking at a parliamentary grilling in Canberra, Dr Lowe says Australia can't escape a world of falling interest rates which have already turned negative in Switzerland, Japan and Europe. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Dr Lowe has warned wages should be recovering.

Packer share sale to Hong Kong gambling titan to be probed by NSW independent watchdog

James Packer's sale of Crown Resorts shares to Hong Kong gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho will be probed by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority. 

Crown says it will "fully cooperate" with the inquiry. 

The investigation will examine whether Crown ensures casinos remain free from criminal influence or exploitation. 

Here's my report from this morning's AM.

Statement from NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority

Thursday, August 8, 2019

AMP in $2.3b first-half loss and asks shareholders for another $650m. I speak with AMP boss Francesco De Ferrari

The embattled wealth manager AMP has posted a $2.3 billion loss as misconduct revealed in last year's financial services Royal Commission continues to erode the company's once trusted reputation.

The half year loss comes as AMP continues to compensate customers hurt by misconduct, with three billion dollars in cash flowing out of the business as clients look for someone else to manage their money. 

AMP also announced a $650 million capital raising as part of a strategy to transform the company. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari.

Central banks cut rates as US China trade fears escalate

With the US China trade war biting into confidence, central banks are cutting rates as fears rise about a global recession. 

Central banks in New Zealand, India and Thailand have cut with the RBNZ governor suggesting rates could to to or below zero. 

Investors are now switching from risky shares to the safety of gold and US Treasury bonds. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says nerves are rising with no agreement in sight between the US and China.

Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn warns on US China trade war fallout

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says escalating trade tensions between the US and China are the troubling backdrop to the full year results from Australia's biggest bank..

The CBA's statutory profit is down 8.1 percent to $8.57 billion, mainly because of customer remediation from the banking Royal Commission, record low interest rates and the removal of a number of fees.

Matt Comyn remains positive but told me there's no escaping potential fallout as relations between the US and China deteriorate by the day.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

"Don't panic" - Josh Frydenberg intervenes as US China trade war escalates

As the trade war between the United States and China escalates, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has intervened this morning to shore up confidence in the domestic economy.

Mr Frydenberg says the escalation is "concerning" but hopes that "cool heads prevail". 

While Wall Street has bounced back from yesterday's steep losses, Mr Frydenberg told ABC's Peter Ryan that there are reasons to be concerned.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Stocks plunge as China ignites currency weapon in trade war with US

Australian shares plunged nearly three percent at the open of trade this morning after Wall Street suffered its worst day this year following a sharp escalation in the US-China trade war. 

China has ignited its currency as a weapon against US tariffs amid speculation that the Peoples Bank of China might consider selling down US Treasury notes in retaliation. 

ABC's Peter Ryan has been following the drama on markets.

Weak auditing could spark another Enron, warns former ASIC boss Greg Medcraft; cautious on Royal Commission criticisms about ASIC being too cosy with regulated companies

Former Australian Securities & Investments chairman Greg Medcraft warns that conflicts of interest in the auditing profession could result in corporate collapses on the scale of Enron. 

In his first broadcast interview since retiring as ASIC boss, Mr Medcraft said conflicts of interests and poor auditing standards risked another Enron, citing the US energy giant's spectacular implosion in 2001 after widespread fraud and corruption went unreported. 

Greg Medcraft, now a director at the OECD in Paris, speaks with ABC's Peter Ryan.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Rates to stay on hold as RBA weights household debt

After back to back interest rate cuts, the Reserve Bank looks likely to hold fire when its board meets tomorrow.

As the RBA assesses the impact of reductions in June and July, analysts are questioning the rate cutting strategy and when its enough to stimulate a softening economy. 

Dr Timo Henckel, a member of the RBA shadow board at the Australian National University says lower rates risk rising household debt.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Retail sales climb but department store ' retail recession' endures

Retailers saw a pick up in sales in June across most categories and in most states, however department stores continue to suffer from the online onslaught. 

Sales rose 0.4 per cent in June, marginally ahead of market expectations. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the data reflects consumer behaviour in the month after the first of the Reserve Bank rate cuts, but before the second in July and the arrival of tax cuts via people's tax returns.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

US rates cut as expected but investors upset it might be a one-off

The US Federal Reserve has delivered on expectations by cutting interest rates by a 0.25 percent. 

It's the first reduction in a decade when the Fed was slashing rates at the height of the global financial crisis. 

Wall Street stocks dropped in response when chairman Jerome Powell said the decision was not the start of a lengthy cutting cycle. 

ABC's Peter Ryan analyses the decision.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Stockmarket hits post crisis record, but can the surge continue? And how late payments can crush a small business.

The Australian sharemarket has hit a new high, surpassing the record set in November 2007 in the leadup to the global financial crisis. 

But with the economy softening, how sustainable is the market recovery? 

Also, ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with Greg Charlwood from Australian Invoice Finance on how the late payment of bills is hurting small businesses more than ever.

Huawei ramps up challenge to Australia's 5G ban, declares national security is safe. Communications minister Paul Fletcher spokesman says gov't "stands by decision".

Huawei is stepping up its campaign against the Federal Government after the Chinese telco giant was banned from supplying Australia's 5G mobile rollout last year.

A report by the tech consulting firm Ovum - commissioned by Huawei - says former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was wrong to ban Huawei on national security grounds.

Read my report here

Huawei's global chief security officer Andy Purdy is the latest to executive visiting Australia trying to overturn the decision and he says the report backs other evidence that 5G networks can be split to protect sensitive information being passed on to Chinese intelligence.

Andy Purdy spoke in Sydney with the ABC's senior business correspondent Peter Ryan.

Huawei chief security officer Andy Purdy (picture supplied by Huawei)