In this week's essential reading guide Kohler ponders an NBN marvel, Gottliebsen flips a fringe argument, Bartholomeusz looks at Billabong while Koukoulas laments an election disconnect.

The impossible, marvellous NBN rolls on
Alan Kohler
Don’t believe the hype: despite all the personalities and proclivities shaping it, the amazing thing is the NBN’s doing quite well.

Could the new FBT rules help local auto?
Robert Gottliebsen
The fringe benefits tax concessions are much less critical to local carmakers than they once were. Recent changes to the tax may actually increase funding and demand for homegrown vehicles.

Billabong bobs back above water
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Any deal was probably a good deal for Billabong. But the Altamont recapitalisation offers a surprising amount of value and upside for the surfwear maker's embattled shareholders.

Crying poor over Australia's riches
Stephen Koukoulas
Australians have never had it so good. With per capita wealth among the world's highest, why is this election campaign promoting the politics of penury?

Rudd's $3.8bn climate tax shuffle
Tristan Edis
PM Rudd has announced a number of cuts to carbon pricing programs and compensation to cover for the loss of revenue from dumping the carbon tax. Worse, he is conforming to Abbott’s rhetoric that carbon pricing equals cost of living pressures.

Two cheers for China's growth
Geoff Raby
It may be too early to call a ‘soft landing’, but growth figures show fears about heavy exports reliance are now outdated. Struggling sectors can also forget about more financial stimulus.

Orica joins the third way in gas
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Orica's new gas deal effectively reserves supply, undermining industry calls for government regulation which would curtail both the incentive to unlock more gas and make production cheaper.

Wall Street wrestles with a problem of too much profit
Tom Braithwaite – FT
US banks are not celebrating despite making it back to the lofty profit levels of 2007. The mood is sombre because US regulators and politicians are coming back with a vengeance.

Now the political test series is a contest
Alan Kohler
Can Kevin Rudd change the game by exposing Tony Abbott’s climate change position as an incredible feat of political double standards?

Meeting the commodities king
Sam Barden
Marc Rich was viewed variously as global criminal and genius trader. One thing's for certain, the larger than life Belgian-born, American-raised Glencore founder changed commodity markets forever.

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