Get your candles out!

Its time to recognise all of the efforts that are made in the name of our personal freedoms by our military personnel, past and present. 

ANZAC day is always an important entry in the Australian calendar and we, at RFS, take this a little more personally, as we have Sarah’s brother in the navy, Troy’s brother-in-law in the army and Jenna’s dad a retired Navy Veteran.  Most of you would know we collect contributions for our military serving overseas at Christmas each year and we know how much this means to them by the emails and photos we get back.

Incidentally the army are the ones out there checking that the infected and recently arrived are quarantining as they should be.

So this year no dawn service… no dragging semi-comatose children into a car, no struggling to find a car park, no chance to witness a beautiful sunrise (well you can still do this) and no haunting rendition of the last post and all the emotion it brings.

This year it is much easier.  This year you get to stand in your driveway or on your balcony with a candle at 6.00am.   

This year more Australians than ever, can share a moment of gratitude for all those who, historically and currently, protect this wonderful country. 

A week is a long time in the COVID world

Things are definitely looking better in Australia. Elective surgeries are being talked about and the easing of restrictions generally is obviously on the agenda. 

While this is good news, we still need to be very careful when it comes to our elderly.

One of our medical clients (thanks Tom) shared a very useful website for real data on what is happening in Australia and around the world.

If you look at the ‘Demographics’ tab and then the ‘Deaths’ tab, it provides an insight into the ‘at risk’ group.

Numbers below are for 23 April 2020.

  • 6,654 cases identified in Australia from 438,000 tests
  • Zero deaths in Australia for anyone under thirty and they make up 41% of the identified cases.
  • One death in the 40 somethings, 2 in the 50s and 7 deaths in 60s. They make up 43% of the identified cases and the fatality rate is well below 1%.
  • The concerns start in the 70s, 80s and above. A much smaller number of identified cases but much higher death rates. In the 80-90 bracket the rate can be as high as 22%.  More than 1 in 5 infected are dying.

Yes there are often additional health issues involved and a large portion of these elderly were in a small number of aged care facilities, but we would argue that this doesn’t mitigate the risk.

Most elderly folk have health issues.  My own parents in their eighties (sorry mum and dad) are single-handedly trying to keep various specialists in employment on the Gold Coast and they are not unusual.  Simply their bodies showing the signs of a misspent youth?

The simple message for younger generations is that we still need to be very careful and that the social distancing practices are saving a large number of their parents and grandparents lives.

A wild ride with oil as the driver.

The volatility we were expecting has continued with international markets rebounding then giving most of it back on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

A good portion of the blame for this volatility is being placed at the foot of oil prices.

Always seems a bit odd, as cheaper prices are good for us, aren’t they? 

Well as a consumer absolutely. Believe it or not, the price per barrel is now in the negative – they pay you to take it as they have too much sitting in tankers unable to offload.  Storage capacity is FULL and the cost of holding means they want to simply get rid of it.

This all goes back to Russia and OPEC not agreeing to limit supply, so the oversupply has become a spiralling issue. 

The bigger concern for the markets, however, is not just the oversupply but the massive drop in demand and what that means.  The markets are working out that the demand reduction is indicating world economies – especially Europe and the US – have hit the brakes far harder than the markets had factored in and subsequent earnings reductions will be more dramatic than initially understood.

As we talked about in our March blogs, while all companies are impacted, companies with poor balance sheets will struggle to keep the doors open.  Healthier companies will also be hurt but will bunker down and then reignite operations as the restrictions ease. 

  • The example we are seeing is Virgin Australia.  Having only made a profit once in the last ten years and holding over $5bill of debt does not help you going into a crisis.  Sharks are circling and you can expect a buyer will pick up a much discounted business and creditors may be disappointed.  Branson will blame the government, but this business had problems long before COVID-19.

Where to from here?

I would be buying fuel while it is cheap!  Unfortunately nowhere to go…

Toilet rolls are back on shelves, entrepreneurs are making hand sanitiser and washing your hands and social distancing will still be the best way to get things back on track.

The TraceTogether App will be coming out in the next week or two and everything I have read on how it will work makes me comfortable that we can utilise it and still feel confident in our privacy.

Barnaby is worried about it, though not sure why, as based on his Sky interview, he is sitting on a farm in New England.  Probably not a lot of mixing going on.

‘The TraceTogether app taps Bluetooth signals to detect other participating mobile devices in close proximity to allow them to identify those who have been in close contact when needed. 

The app is able to estimate the distance between TraceTogether smartphones as well as the duration of such interactions.

It identifies participating TraceTogether users who are within two metres of each other for more than 30 minutes. The data then is captured, encrypted, and stored locally on the user’s phone for 21 days, which spans the incubation period of the virus.’

The idea is that if someone is identified as infected they give the authorities permission to download the last 21 days of data which is encrypted on their phone – you can’t access it yourself – and anyone you may have infected can be quickly contacted.  The information is the mobile numbers you have been near and the length of time you spent in the proximity.

It doesn’t track where you have been or where you are – unlike your Google maps, Facebook, Instagram, Weather apps, Trip adviser,, sports devices and many other apps on your phone.

Going back to my point above on the elderly (we might have to download it for them), if medical authorities can contact an older person before they even show symptoms then that can definitely be lifesaving and we will all benefit from eased restrictions.

Have a ‘restrained’ weekend and ‘never forget’ our ANZACs