EDITOR'S PICKS

In this week's essential reading guide, the Spectators dissect Wayne Swan's Mid Year Economic amd Fiscal Outlook and conclude an election is imminent, Kohler profiles a third generation family business and Bartholomeusz explains how ANZ's regional plan is immunising it against a slowing domestic economy.


What the MYEFO means to you
Robert Gottliebsen
Middle class executives in companies large and small will be among the greatest hit in Swan's attempt to retain a budget surplus.

Swan tightens the screws
Stephen Koukoulas
Government spending will fall by a record 4.4% in 2012-13, and the market could fall further once investors realise just how tight the fiscal settings are. Already a .25% rate cut is being priced in.

FAMILY BUSINESS: Ventura Bus Lines
Alan Kohler
From a single 14-seater nearly 90 years ago, Melbourne's Cornwall family has taken a slow, steady and savvy approach to dominating the city's expanding bus system.

Now it's personal
Alister Drysdale
Julia Gillard's 'misogyny' speech could become the defining moment of the election. Those 15 minutes shifted the narrative away from policy failures and onto that more emotive and visceral subject, character.

A global warning shouted from the helicopters
Stephen Koukoulas
The world's big central banks have again indicated they will go to extremes to get economies moving again. This massive simultaneous stimulus puts yesterday's Australian inflation data in context.

ANZ's regional strategy lifeline
Stephen Bartholomeusz
ANZ's result was solid given the sluggishness of the domestic environment, and shows that its regional strategy is paying off. However returns may begin to shrink because of growing cost pressures.

The looming battle for currency advantage
Robert Gottliebsen
The US and Europe are committed to lowering their currencies in order to gain competitiveness and new wealth, already bossing China to float the artificially low yuan. Australia could be caught in the crossfire.

Floundering Fairfax fails to inspire
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Talk of a Fairfax break-up was scuppered today as the company maintained such a move would destroy rather than enhance shareholder value. The group's restructuring is its last and best hope.

Prepare for an early election
Alan Kohler
In whipping up a surplus without including any politically painful ingredients, Wayne Swan will be hoping his budget souffl rises in time for an early election.

Labor cops out on Fair Work
Leon Gettler
Bill Shorten's recently announced changes to the Fair Work Act are only cosmetic, with IR now so heavily politicised that there is no will to address real structural deficiencies in the system.

TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Apple's stubborn, Mini price point play
Supratim Adhikari
Apple has released its iPad Mini and while some analysts are concerned Apple will lose ground to rivals Google and Amazon, the tech giant is refusing to engage in a race to the bottom on price.

CLIMATE SPECTATOR: The target debate rolls on
Tristan Edis
The Clean Energy Council has fired the latest salvo in the Renewable Energy Target debate, and it is quite clear why the generators are protesting so loudly.

AGL seeks a regulatory circuit-breaker
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Regulatory pricing decisions in Queensland and South Australia have led AGL to downgrade its earnings guidance and point the finger at over-lapping state and federal regulatory structures as a threat to the sector.

Six ways the taxman cometh
Robert Gottliebsen
Swan's surplus will rely on extracting tax from the Australian business community. Here are six ways the taxman might come after you.

CEO PULSE: Worry across the boards
Alan Kohler
Despite recent sharemarket gains, pessimism is on the rise among Australia's business leaders who are concerned about how they will generate top line growth.

Consumers forgotten in the electricity debate
Keith Orchison
The various parties involved in the debate around electricity prices have been selective about the facts for reasons of political expediency, and all at the expense of the consumer.

Treasury Wine bets on premium
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Treasury Wine Estates is more vulnerable than ever following a downwardly revised earnings update, but the company looks set for a rebound in the medium term as it continues to focus on the premium end of the market.

Alas poor policy, we knew it well
Mitchell Neems
Australia political discourse has rarely been inspiring but the events of the past few months are evident of an entire political establishment that has lost its way.

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