IT WAS not only the Israeli corporate bond market that bowled over former Australian Securities and Investments Commission deputy chairman Jeremy Cooper on a recent trade mission to the Jewish state.
After banging on about the Israeli "X-factor" in a newspaper column last month, Cooper was still trying to articulate yesterday why Israel is such a success story.
Was it largely the result of compulsory national service?
"Perhaps a big reason for this X-factor is how Israel prepares its young people for the challenges of life," he told an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce function yesterday. "The answer is compulsory service for everybody over 18 . . . it makes a big difference," said Cooper, who now has a job for Challenger.
"By the age of 25 the average Israeli has worked in a close-knit team in very demanding environments, made decisions that have had real consequences and has been required to solve complicated problems in a short space of time," he said about the benefits of donning khaki and carrying an assault rifle for one's country. "What this translates into is a propensity to carry out technical innovation."
Thank heavens Cooper made his trip to Israel after completing his review of Australia's superannuation system in 2010. Compulsory super contributions could have been extended into more controversial areas.
Air chief's undercarriage fetish
QANTAS chief executive Alan Joyce probably had a good excuse for not posing in a pair of undies in a Beijing hotel room this week.
After all, he's had a slumping share price to prop up and renewed talk that a private equity consortium led by his predecessor and "mentor", Geoff Dixon, might buy out the struggling airline.
Joyce passed on his opportunity to exhibit his physique at a farewell bash for Air New Zealand's outgoing and fitness-fanatic chief executive Rob Fyfe, which was held on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting.
Fyfe, who once starred naked (in body paint) in one of his airline's advertisements, and in another wearing disco gear, had undies handed out to the chief executives who attended the party at the China World Hotel.
"I was one of those guys who was supposed to show his underpants," confirmed Joyce.
CBD was unable to find out whether any guests including Cathay Pacific's John Slosar or International Airline Group's Willie Walsh took off any clothes.
The Australian boss of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, would only confirm afterwards that he still had a pair of the Air New Zealand-sponsored undies in his hotel room.
Wearing undies could have been a bad look for the Irish-born Qantas boss anyway, given was appointed the chairman of IATA yesterday. He is the third Qantas chief executive to serve as the chairman of the air transport body.
Would have also been a bad look for the Qantas boss to lose his shirt given what has happened to the airline's share price in recent days.
Joyce might need a Popemobile or least some minders at next year's 69th IATA annual meeting in Cape Town. He had to bulldoze his way through a mad pack of journalists at a press briefing yesterday.