How Does a Nudge Win You a Nobel? by Adam Howard

The Rookie has loaded up on carbs, slept well, warmed up and is ready for game day!!  And all that nervous energy has got him thinking about our latest economics Nobel Laureate, Richard Thaler. the father of the nudge.  So, the big questions this time around are "What IS a nudge?" and "Why do we, as intelligent, rational human beings, need to be nudged at all?"  Or what about "Do we even know we are being nudged?"  Food for thought in this age of rampant and rugged individualism.  Makes you wonder if we maybe have an inflated opinion of our own intelligence and that maybe we still have a lot to learn about ourselves.  Just remember what that old boozer and writer Ernest Hemingway used to say, that "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man.  True nobility is being superior to your former self."

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Houston, We Have an Ethical Problem.... by Adam Howard

The Rookie made it through Grand Final madness, Mad Monday madness and is now back just day-to-day madness.  And he has worked out that some of that madness comes from other people making us mad, right??  So, how about we ask some questions about that anger, like, "What type of bad behaviour is making us angry?" and "Who is it that is behaving badly?" and "What is it about that behaviour that is wrong to make it bad?"  And while we are sitting in our easy chairs, judging the hell out of everyone, how about we stop and ask "Are we immune from displaying the same type of bad behaviour?" and if we aren't, then what can we do to stop it?   Tough questions, ones about ethics and morals, so best remember what that crazy old science guru Albert Einstein used to say, that "relativity applies to physics, not ethics."

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Are You Liquid? by Adam Howard

The Rookie is BAAAACCCKKK!!  The coach has had The Rookie on light duties, and after a few games in the reserves he is back in the first team and is tackling the issue of liquidity.  Everyone is talking about debt, but what about cold, hard cash.  So, how about some tough questions like, "Is there more or less cash around these days?", "Who is holding that cash?" and "Do households hold as much cash as our banks have to?"  In a world awash with debt, we need to remember that CASH IS KING!!! And if you don't have any, then you need to take charge of that situation and remember what Moliere, the king of old school French comedy, used to say, that we will be held responsible for not only what we do, but what we fail to do....

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In Business and Politics, Where DOES the Buck Stop? by Adam Howard

The Rookie took a break, a sabbatical if you will, and found some perspective while he was away.  Sadly that perspective doesn't involve less cynicism, so with that added amount of unhealthy doubt comes questions like "Is our corporate world defined by self-interest?" and "If it is, then who should be accountable compared with who IS accountable?"  Then moving onto the mountain of debt we are told is about to collapse, there are other questions, like "Is there a difference between productive and unproductive debt?" and if so "What is a productive asset compared to an unproductive one?"  This then begs the question "Have we all been investing in unproductive assets?" And if so, why?  Tough questions, but as that hero of wartime America Harry S. Truman once said, "I never gave anyone hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."

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How Do You Know What a Bank is Thinking? by Adam Howard

Well, The Rookie has come through the qualifying rounds and made a splash in the main draw, and before he crashes out he has some questions, like "Why do humans try to forecast?", "If we are no good at it, why bother?" and "How come everyone other than the forecaster fails to understand the actual forecast?"  After all, we try to forecast everything, with a massive industry based purely on the potential outcomes of those forecasts:  the gambling industry.  So, in the context of buying a house or a car, or expanding your business, The Rookie wants to know if the next time you go to a bank to borrow money are you willing to leave the outcome to the roll of a dice?  Or would you like to know what the odds are?

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Is This What The Bottom Of The Curve Looks Like, and Could The Donald Make It Worse? by Adam Howard

The Rookie listened to the policies, watched the polls, made his prediction and....got it wrong just like the rest of us.  And in the wake of The Donald's win and when considering his coming ascent to the role of POTUS, The Rookie has some questions, like "Why did he run for POTUS?" and "Were his motivations noble?"  And of course "What does his election win mean for the Australian economy?"  And that leads to questions like "How is our economy travelling?" and "Do we need to acknowledge a recession anytime soon?"  Tough questions, and with them in mind it's worth remembering what our boy Barry Obama once said, that "That's the good thing about being President; I can do whatever I want."

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Is Anyone Else Sick of Bad Behaviour and Mediocrity? by Adam Howard

It's been a tough month for The Rookie, and it's left little time for quiet reflection.  But now, HE'S BACK!!  And it's a strange world we live in, where the highest rewards seem to be going to the least worthy, while the vast majority of us sit here scratching our heads and wondering "WTF??"  So, The Rookie asks "Is this behaviour widespread?", "What is causing this behaviour?" and "Are we all morally and ethically challenged?"  Tough questions, but ones that DO have answers.  We just need to look a long way back in history to find them and remember what another of crusty ol' robe wearing Romans Cicero used to say, that "I have always been of the opinion that unpopularity earned by doing what is right is not unpopularity at all, but glory."

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Whats the Price of Modern Life? by Adam Howard

It's finals time and The Rookie has made the cut!!   From here on it's cut throat.  One loss and you are out for the season.  And with that much on the line the Rookie asks some tough questions, like "Is competition a good thing?"  And if it is, "Why are our critical industries consolidating?" and "Why would regulators and competition watchdogs allow that?"  So, if it turns out competition isn't actually that good a thing, and less players with more power actually DO provide more benefits, then the questions become "Why does this feel wrong", "What don't we like about this reality?" and  "What are the prices of a less competitive landscape?".  Challenging thoughts, but then remember what Chuck Darwin said when delivering the uncomfortable truth that we are all descended from apes, that "the highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize we ought to control our thoughts."

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Low Rates, Bad Debts and Record Profits: Adventures in Bankland by Adam Howard

The Rookie is ready to rant!  Reporting season is in full swing and the banks are once again announcing profits that make the eyes water.  But wait, are the profits growing as fast as they used to?  Are there problems lurking in the annual reports?  If so, what are those problems?  The Rookie and his Dad have been around banks for a long time and things are changing in bankland...fast.  What were the good ol' days like and what is it like for bankers today?  And what does that mean for borrowers asking for some dough?  Tough questions that require some thought, so just remember what that wily ol' car maker Henry Ford used to say, that "thinking is probably the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it." 

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Brexit and the Federal Election: Fear and Loathing in The Electorate by Adam Howard

The Rookie has taken his mid-season break and is back, feeling refreshed and ready for action.  And so much action to talk about.  A Federal Election where defeat was nearly snacthed from the jaws of victory and a Brexit vote that took everyone from surprise.  Begs the questions, "When faced with a choice between change and the status quo, what will people normally choose?"  or "What is it about modern politics that everyone hates?" , and finally, "What role does the media play in our choices?"  Tough questions, particularly in such uncertain times.  And if you find yourself troubled by these popular choices, just remember what that wily old Frenchman Voltaire used to say, that "Common sense is not so common after all..."

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Two Budgets, Two Elections and a Rate Cut: A Drama in 3 Acts. by Adam Howard

The Rookie received his invitation in the mail and went off to Parliament House to hear from our elected representatives about the state of our economy.  Interesting times as our two speed national economy becomes a single speed national economy, and that speed is slow.  We also have 2 months of Malcolm and Bill pitching us on their credentials to wear the big hat for the next 3 years, and I get the feeling they are selling us a pup.  Malcolm has the chops to say he knows that he is doing, while Bill is a union man, through and through.  Who will take the wheel of the big green and gold bus for the next 3 years?  So, in this environment, the questions that we ask are "Is a rate cut a good thing?" and "How can the Federal Budget contain corporate tax cuts when we are waxing lyrical about a budget deficit?"  And then onto our home State and it's budget, where we ask "Did we get enough bang for our buck out of the reasource boom?"  And "Isn't timing everything?"  Tough questions.  Questions The Rookie tries to answer, as he reminds everyone what Mark Twain used to say "Loyalty to the nation?  Always.  Loyalty to the government?  When it deserves it."

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Risk, Return and Getting Money Out of a Bank... by Adam Howard

The Rookie has put on his best suit, scrubbed his cheeks, brushed his hair and is off to see the bank manager.  An important occasion like that raises some big questions such as "How much private debt is there in Australia?"  and "How does that compare to other big Australian financial metrics like GDP, the stockmarket and super assets?"  And if it's a big amount, then "Why isn't there more discussion about how to deal with a bank and what to expect when you go see them?"  All of this information is meant to help you prepare for your next meeting with the bank, because as that old English scientist and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon used to say, "Knowledge is power."

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What Happens When a Bank Loses Money? by Adam Howard

The Rookie has some advice for all those wanting to borrow money from a bank:  "Seek professional advice!"  It's a process fraught with pitfalls and laden with anxiety, so this week we look at some things that can impact your ability to borrow from a bank.  Such things as, "When was the last time that bank lost money?", and "In what sector of our economy did that bank lose money?"  And most important of all "What is the potential impact of those losses on me?"  Tough questions, particularly in Australia following a few years that could easily be described as the Golden Years of Australian banking.  Banks are just as likely as the rest of us to fall prey to making knee jerk decisions.  It's best to recall what the French Resistance fighter, footballer and philosopher Albert Camus said, that "Stupidity has a knack of getting its way."

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The Global Economy: It's all about gambling, right? by Adam Howard

The Rookie has been studying hard, has checked all his notes and thinks he is ready to take the tests.  But before he does, he wants to ask some tough questions, like "Is investing really just like gambling?", and "When did it become OK to gamble on the economy, and how did that happen?"  And this level of gambling appears to have caused some problems, which beg the questions, "Why is the price of oil so low?", "What's really happening in China?", "Is the Eurozone going to fall apart?" and "Is WA about to experience it's own GFC?"  Tough questions; ones that need answers, particularly as everyone gets more worried about economic matters.  The Rookie reminds everyone what that wisest of Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius used to say: "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts."

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Will the Titans of Industry and Politics Save Us From Economic Armageddon? by Adam Howard

The Rookie has taken the hard road, won through the qualifying rounds, beaten the seeds and is now poised to win his first Grand Slam.  Before he does, he has some tough questions to ask.  Like, "Why is it that the more a CEO is paid, the worse their company does?"  and "Are CEOs and political leaders really doing it for the greater good?".  If they aren't, and The Rookie suspects they might not be, then why are they doing it?  In this new world of constant news, uncertainty and volatility, what does this mean for us and our world of work?  And who should we turn to for help, or to save us?  It makes the Rookie think back on something Rick Charlesworth, ex-Hockeyroo's coach and obvious Plato fan, once said, that "The last person you ask to be captain, is the person who asks to be captain."

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When Do I Need to Stop Being More Productive? by Adam Howard

Well, The Rookie has survived another festive season.  He has given all his gifts, cracked all his crackers and clinked all the glasses and now it's back to work.  This week, The Rookie shares some stories from inside Big Corporate, and hopefully answers some difficult questions, like "How much work do all those smart execs really do?", and "What would happen to Big Corporate if, say, half of those execs were let go?"  What about, "How many hours of productive time are wasted each year in driving to the office and sitting in meetings?" or "Is there a better way to organise work?"  Tough questions, but questions The Rookie feels he can answer, after all, he is convinced he is a smart guy.

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A Guide to Corporate Communications and Climbing the Corporate Ladder by Adam Howard

Well, The Rookie would like to apologize for his absence.  He has been distracted by his alter ego, Adam Howard's self serving need to start his own finance broking business; a venture The Rookie holds little hope for.  But now, he is BACK, and asking some tough questions too, like "What is the secret to success in the business world?" and "If communication is a part of that recipe, how should you communicate?".  And finally, "In our new digital world, how long do I have to communicate, before I have dropped the ball?"  And given his alter ego's departure from Big Corporate, what about some lessons learned about to handle or mishandle your career, like "What should I look out for when trying to climb the corporate ladder?"  Tough questions once again.  But you have to ask tough questions if you want to succeed.  After all, in today's world where we can tend to suffer from that state of mind where we feel trapped, we need to remember the advice of Voltaire, who said "Man is free at the moment he wishes to be."

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What's The Worst Question in the World? "Are We There Yet?" by Adam Howard

The Rookie has read the reports, listened to the interviews and gathered the data and now asks the question; "Are politicians idiots or liars?" This question needs to be asked after this week's release of the Australian National Accounts and our Treasurer saying Australia is "at no risk" of falling into recession.  The Rookie wants to suggest that maybe, just maybe, WA has actually been in a recession for over a year.  If that's the case,what data have we got that supports this?  And if we are there now, are we at the bottom?  And how has the slowing WA economy impacted employees?  Just don't tell any politicians The Rookie said this.  And when thinking about Big Joe Hockey, just remember what the father of comedy, Groucho Marx said, "He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot.  But don't let that fool you.  He really is an idiot."

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What Does a Bubble Look Like? by Adam Howard

Well, The Rookie has faced his own challenges, experienced the dizzying heights and the devastating lows, and has come out the back end stronger than ever.  This week we ask, what does a property bubble really look like?  Do we have a picture of a city that has gone through a property boom and bust?  If so, where was that?  And why did it happen?  And will the same thing happen in Australia?  And what about the changes to investment lending pricing and policies announced lately.  Why did the banks do that?  And what does it really mean for borrowers and the economy?  Tough questions, ones that need to be asked as Australia adapts to life after iron ore.  Some people are finding it a struggle to shift their lifestyles down a gear.  Makes me think what that ol' crusty drunk, Winston Churchill used to say, "If you are going through hell, just keep going..."

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In The Long Term, What Goes Up, Must Come Down, Right? by Adam Howard

The Rookie is BACK!!  He has gathered a support crew, donned the lycra and is peddling as fast as he can to stay with the Peloton.  In this Update he asks the tough question "Is the Australian property market the biggest bubble in history?" Some commentators have been saying so, so what should we do about the supposed looming bloodbath?  Is there really a looming bloodbath?  How does the performance of our property market compare with the US, the UK and others over the long term?  And we talk about the long term a lot, but how long IS the long term?  Once you have worked out what the long term is, how do you use information about the long term?  The Rookie knows he is displaying his own total lack of humility by talking about such weighty issues and is sure most readers will take our ol' mate Robert Downey Jr's advice that you should "Listen.  Smile.  Agree.  And then do whatever the f*#k you were going to do anyway..."

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