Hidden figures was a lot of fun, and a great watch. It tells the story of black women, working at NASA in an era when both categories suffered discrimination. It shows how they struggled on multiple fronts, and celebrates some incredible successes, particularly note worthy given the context.
I have no idea if it’s historically accurate – apparently some of the characters are composites, though.
I don’t have much expertise in this area; but it certainly felt to me that the movie dealt well in explicitly showing the racism its protagonists faced. There was no simple finish line; there were victories, but they were still pushing up hill. And it doesn’t resort to cute metaphors, or symbolism – instead it shows a woman forced to drink from a separate coffee urn because of the colour of her skin, and forced to walk three times the distance because she isn’t allowed to use a nearby toilet.
Well worth it.
Demain, or Tomorrow
Demain is a fascinating piece. There have been a lot of movies and stories about the environmental crisis we’re facing, and what climate change means. The focus of Demain is slightly different; it knows that the problem is already well publicized, and it’s interested in where the solutions are.
I think it does a good job of pushing beyond the environmental to the social and economic, in a few dimensions. It doesn’t give a single answer, which can feel a little fuzzy, but that’s probably a strength, more than anything else.
I learnt that the local currency movement exists, which is something I’d had no idea about – it’s intriguing.
The film does well in being aware of the camera – it shows us the camera, before it shows us the shots; somehow that helps to make it feel more authentic. It also has a great soundtrack, which makes it doubly worth while.
I’ve written before about my (rough) estimates of where the housing market is headed (here and here). John Hewson recently wrote a paragraph that would fit perfectly into a retrospective on how we should have known there was a housing bubble:
Housing prices have risen by more 250 per cent in real terms since the mid-1990s, with the median house price in Sydney now well above $1 million. Household debt is more than 200 per cent of disposable income, and greater than 120 per cent of GDP. Total taxes, charges, levies, and fees, from all three levels of government, can account for as much as 30 per cent of the cost of a house.
He later mentions that there might be a bubble:
However, our whole system is at risk of a significant drop in house prices as, indeed, was the US/global financial system in the run up to the global financial crisis, where the mountain of debt was built on a US sub-prime housing loan, which was simply a punt on house prices not falling.
Our banks are, today, heavily exposed, having become essentially building societies that also issue credit cards. These exposures are over and above their considerable climate exposures – not just to mortgages on coastal properties, and to fossil fuels, but more broadly.
The risks being run actually dwarf those of the GFC. If it goes bad, the government will be called on to intervene.
For the sake of making concrete predictions – probably by end 2018:
- There’ll be some kind of a trigger. Possibly a further tightening of capital controls in China, possibly an interest rate hike, or maybe enough articles about a housing bubble will finally get written. Or perhaps a set of budget measures that restricts negative gearing.
- House prices will fall. More than five per cent.
- At least one, possibly more of the major banks will need some kind of financial support when the wholesale funding dries up. Look for the RBA’s CLF to be used, or AOMF purchase of RMBS.
Just a guess. But I reckon a good one.
An interesting piece from a former Congressional Research Service member on their decision to leave the service – essentially, reflecting a broader political context. Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service in the Washington Monthly.
Huffington Post’s editor’s note has been in place since January, but I’m just spotting it now. It’s an interesting approach, and at least gets the editors past the ‘he said, she said’ problem.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
McDonalds has been running a Monopoly promotion. Apparently it has a long history, which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising. What is surprising, though is that Monopoly was apparently invented by a progressive feminist, as a way of illustrating the ideas of Henry George. History, apparently, has a sense of humour.