Bible is the ultimate fairytale

PETER Dolan’s suggestion that ‘‘God dies’’ in the Harry Potter novels is laughable (‘‘Toxic messages of Potter books’’ Letters 28/8). Someone or something that never existed cannot die.

But the suggestion that gruesome and frightening images are often the stuff of great literature is correct. Where would we be without such fictional images? No Shakespeare, Dante, Dickens or Umberto Echo. Life would be dull.

The Bible is the ultimate fairytale, just ahead of the Koran, the Talmud and all the other religious claptrap kids have had shoved down their throats for centuries.

Mr Dolan’s ‘‘cornucopia of false messages’’ described as contained in the Harry Potter novels, could perfectly describe the Bible.

Everything Mr Dolan says about the novels of J.K.Rowling can be applied to the Bible. It is largely a work of fiction, where everything and anything is said to justify the opinions and outlook of the authors, mostly a narrow, partisan view of the world written decades after the alleged life of Jesus.

When Mr Dolan talks about evil, I suggest he think about the many cases of child abuse committed by men and women of God.

Or the terror regimes in the Australian concentration camps where Aboriginal children were imprisoned, abused and battered under the ‘‘protection’’ of various religious organisations.

Or the genocides committed with church approval and supervision in South America and other places colonised by devoutly Christian conquerors.

It is beyond me why our society tolerates what I see as cults, such as the Catholic, Anglican and other churches, organisations with appalling histories of abuse and misogyny. Why do we fund them with our taxes?

Osieck sticks with Socceroos mainstays

SOCCEROOS coach Holger Osieck has named a squad of the tried and tested for next week’s friendly against Lebanon in Beirut and the subsequent World Cup qualifier against Jordan in Amman on September 11.

Coming back into the squad is the Socceroos’ linchpin, Tim Cahill, who missed the recent friendly against Scotland as he settled into life in the USA where he has signed with MLS club New York Red Bulls.

Jade North, Nikita Rukavytsya, Adam Sarota and Matthew Spiranovic have also been recalled while midfielder James Holland, who hasn’t featured for the national team in 18 months, has been included.

However, Harry Kewell, who is still in the hunt for a new club after being turned away by Stoke City, has not been included in the 22-man squad.

Fellow veteran Mark Schwarzer shows no signs of slowing down and if he plays in either match will be come the first player to reach 100 caps for the Socceroos.

There is only one uncapped player in the squad, habitual third-choice goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak. Ryan McGowan and Jason Davidson, who made their respective debuts in this month’s 3-1 friendly defeat against Scotland, have again won selection.

Melbourne Victory defender Mark Milligan was not considered as he has to serve a one-match ban for being sent off against Japan.

Socceroos squad for Jordan and Lebanon matches: Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa, Qatar), Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse, Japan), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls, USA), David Carney (FK Bundyodkor Tashkent, Uzbekistan), Jason Davidson (SC Heracles Almelo, Netherlands), Adam Federici (GK) (Reading FC, England), James Holland, (FK Austria Wien, Australia), Brett Holman (Aston Villa FC, England), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace FC, England), Robbie Kruse, (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Mitchell Langerak (GK) (B.V. Borussia 09 Dortmund, Germany), Ryan McGowan (Heart of Midlothian FC, Scotland), Matthew McKay (Busan I’Park, Korea Republic), Lucas Neill, (Al Wasl, UAE), Jade North (Consadole Sapporo, Japan), Sasa Ognenovski (Umm Salal SC, Qatar), Nikita Rukavytsya (Hertha Berliner SC, Germany), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht, Netherlands), Mark Schwarzer (GK) (Fulham FC, England), Matthew Spiranovic (Al Arabi, Qatar), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Luke Wilkshire (FK Dinamo Moscow, Russia)

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Cashing in on an investment

Renos done . . . Leila McKinnon, who is selling her renovated investment apartment at Bondi. The Lilyfield home of Dorothy McRae-McMahon that sold for more than $1 million.

The heritage-listed residence at Glenwood, Blacktown, that is expected to sell for more than $600,000.

The Channel Nine presenter Leila McKinnon, who is a co-host of Weekend Today, is selling her apartment at Bondi. McKinnon owns the two-bedder with her brother, Daniel McKinnon, and his Fairfax financial journalist wife, Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon.

Since it was last traded for $618,000 in 2005, the apartment has been renovated with an open-plan gas kitchen and jarrah floors. In a small block of seven apartments in Bennett Street, it has two queen-size bedrooms, a white-tiled bathroom and a large living and dining area opening to a balcony with views to the ocean in the distance.

Also on title is a garage with mezzanine storage. The property, which is expected to sell for about $700,000, is scheduled for auction on September 22 through Bradfield Cleary agent, Mark Daley.

The doctor is in

A former operating theatre building, which is part of the extensive redevelopment of the Prince Henry Hospital site at Little Bay, was snapped up for $1,385,000 last week by a doctor from the north coast who intends to restore it and use it as his Sydney residence.

The building, on an 840 sqm block in Darwin Avenue, was sold two weeks before its auction, which had been scheduled for early September through Morton & Morton agent David Licul.

Snapped before auction

The Lilyfield home of Dorothy McRae-McMahon, who worked in international aid and community development for the NSW Ecumenical Council, sold last week for just over $1 million through McGrath Leichhardt agent Stuart Norman. The three-bedroom, weatherboard bungalow, set on a 249 sqm block in Maida Street, sold 10 days before its scheduled auction.

In a quiet street near the Bay Run, it has large rooms with high patterned ceilings and timber fretwork. Now retired, McRae-McMahon was a minister with the Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney. She has won many awards including the Australian Peace Award and the Human Rights Medal.

Early booking for B&B

Belvedere, a former bed and breakfast establishment at Burradoo in the southern highlands, sold before its scheduled auction through three Bowral estate agents: Angus Campbell-Jones, Margaret McCauley and Ian Rayner. The 4453 sqm Werrington Street property has beautiful views across the Wingecarribee River. Surrounded by established gardens, the house has five bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and large formal and informal living areas.

Last month, Belvedere was listed with $1.5 million price hopes but the agents could not confirm its sale price because of confidentiality agreements. The vendor, Geraldine Broderick, intends to downsize to a smaller property in the Bowral area.

A little piece of history

At Glenwood near the Norwest Business Park, a heritage homestead (listed by Blacktown City Council) is set for auction on September 22 through John Russell of Richardson & Wrench Baulkham Hills. Named Isabella, the house has been restored by Wayne Stein and Donna Malcolm, who both work for Australia Post.

The house, which is expected to sell for more than $600,000, stands on a 611 sqm block that originally was part of a 50-acre [20-hectare] land grant made by Governor Macquarie to a former convict, John Gray.

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China turns to more subtle monetary tools

China’s central bank is experimenting with more delicate tools to support bank liquidity and lending, showing an apparent reluctance to resort to blunter monetary policy instruments such as cutting the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves despite abundant signs of weakening growth.

The central bank surveyed primary dealers about demand for 28-day reverse bond repurchase agreements on Wednesday, traders said, as policymakers seek alternatives to another cut in banks’ required reserve ratio (RRR).

It was the first time the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has suggested it might use such a long-term instrument to inject liquidity into the interbank market.

As recently as two weeks ago, money market traders and economists widely believed the third RRR cut of 2012 was imminent, as evidence mounted that the world’s second-largest economy was slowing more sharply than expected.

But the current consensus is that the PBOC has decided to rely on reverse repos to ensure that banks have the liquidity necessary to support the flow of new loans and bond issues. The PBOC began issuing reverse repos regularly in May.

“My baseline scenario is that the authorities’ focus in 2012 is not on growth but in cleaning up the excesses that materialised from the 2009-10 stimulus,” said Tim Condon, head of Asian economic research at ING in Singapore.

“They simply don’t want to do anything that will risk rekindling the area of excess that they are trying to clean up. And therefore I see the 28-day repo as kind of a fine-tuning measure, that they don’t want to actually make a permanent injection via a RRR cut.”

China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in more than three years in the second quarter, and a factory survey last week showed China’s manufacturing sector contracted at its sharpest pace in nine months in August. Earlier data showed that exports, bank loans, and industrial output all grew more slowly than expected in July.

Why no RRR cut?

While the PBOC has used 28-day forward repos to withdraw liquidity, it has relied exclusively on seven-day and 14-day reverse repos for liquidity injections in recent years. In 2005, 21-day reverse repos were used on a small scale.

Extending the maturity of reverse repo operations offers an apparent compromise between shorter-term liquidity injections and an RRR cut.

Traders had complained that even if the volume of reverse repo fund injections is large, such operations have limited potential to bring down interbank rates. The short duration created uncertainty, since the market could never be sure whether the repos would be rolled over on maturity.

Beyond the issue of duration, however, traders are divided about the central bank’s fundamental motivation for choosing reverse repos over an RRR cut.

Some speculate that central bank is reluctant to take any major easing steps prior to the Communist Party congress likely to occur in October or November, when the Party will unveil its next generation of top leaders. The precise dates are not yet decided.

Such reluctance could reflect divisions within the leadership about how to balance the need for monetary easing with the risk of re-inflating a housing bubble and fuelling investment in industries such as steel and cement already sagging under the weight of overcapacity.

But other disagree, noting that RRR cuts have traditionally been viewed as a technocratic decision that the PBOC is free to make without consulting the State Council, China’s cabinet.

An alternate theory is that the shift to reverse repos represents a longer-term effort by the PBOC to re-tool monetary policy to bring it in line with advanced economies.

In the United States and European Union, central banks use short-term repos to achieve an explicit short-term rates target. Quantitative tools such as reserve ratios play little role.

Guiding the market

Traders point out that, unlike an RRR cut, reverse repos allow the central bank to explicitly guide interbank rates via the auction yield. This essentially sets a floor on the rate at which banks will lend to each other for a given duration.

“An increased number of tenors in PBOC reverse repos will make it easier for the central bank to adjust short-term funding costs,” said a trader at a major Chinese state-owned bank in Beijing.

“Signs are that the PBOC is recently strengthening its guidance of money market rates via its reverse repo rates. Its intention for now appears to be maintaining the stability of short-term funding costs.”

Even as the central bank has increased the volume of its fund injections in recent weeks, it has guided the rate on its seven-day reverse repos from 3.30 per cent on July 12 to 3.40 per cent for the past two weeks.

That suggests that while the central bank aims to ensure that banks have the funds they need to lend, they do not want the benchmark seven-day repo interbank rate to plumb the depths of 2009-10, during which it rarely exceeded 3 per cent and was often below 2 per cent.

By contrast, an RRR cut is a blunter instrument that simply floods the interbank market with funds and lets banks sort out the price at which they will lend.

China was forced to increase the RRR for much of the last decade as a way to sterilize the massive foreign exchange inflows created by its huge trade surpluses.

But the trade surplus has fallen sharply in recent years, and China suffered its first capital account deficit in the second quarter this year.

With the reserve ratio still high at 20 per cent, China must still eventually unwind it to more reasonable levels. But the more balanced flow of capital into and out of the country suggests that the RRR will play a less important role in monetary policy in the future.


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