In this week's essential reading guide, Kohler sees a tortuous road to government, Gottliebsen explains how Labor got it so wrong, Bartholomeusz hands in the report cards of Woolies, BHP and Westpac, and Maley reveals a living age of financial oppression.

A tortuous road to government
Alan Kohler, Election 2010
The three main independents who will decide this election show an impressive respect for policy. Broadband, a carbon price, the mining tax and parental leave are now all back in play.

Trapped in a US housing hell
Robert Gottliebsen
The fall in US housing sales to a 15-year low largely comes down to the behaviour of America's banks, who by making home lending so tough have created a vicious circle.

How Labor got Queensland wrong
Robert Gottliebsen, Election 2010
Labor's powerbrokers understood some aspects of the national mood, but if they'd understood the banking and property situation in Queensland, they'd have known to tread more carefully in that state.

A new-look game from Woolies
Stephen Bartholomeusz
At first glance Woolworths' result isn't fantastic. However, Michael Luscombe's ability to reach most of his targets, another healthy buyback and strong dividends should lift shareholder spirits.

BHP's embarrassment of riches
Stephen Bartholomeusz
With this remarkable result, BHP Billiton is in a surprisingly awkward position. If Kloppers can't pull off the PotashCorp acquisition, he will struggle to find an alternative depository for all this wealth.

Westpac's waning momentum
Stephen Bartholomeusz
The decline in loan losses witnessed in the recent updates from Westpac and other big banks is obviously a positive, but it's now clear the extent to which further gains can be made is getting tougher.

The age of financial oppression
Karen Maley
Something has to give in sovereign debt markets. While widespread default is unlikely, a Morgan Stanley report highlights the other means governments will use to renege on their promises to bondholders.

When to stem the yen?
Karen Maley
While speculation mounts that the Bank of Japan will intervene to cap the yen's 15-year high against the US dollar, the country's biggest exporters are feeling the pain of shrinking foreign demand.

CLIMATE SPECTATOR: Malcolm in the middle
Giles Parkinson, Election 2010
The Coalition's Malcolm Turnbull could unlock the political stalemate, and fulfil his own destiny, if he created a new party to address his liberal and environmental ambitions.

Washington's housing fantasy
Bill Gross, PIMCO
It's now clear Americans, accustomed to a housing market supported by Uncle Sam, cannot survive private lending markets. But hopes that firms like PIMCO will fill the gap are fantasy.

The slaughterhouse five
Natasha Stott Despoja, Election 2010
There are questions as to whether the likely five independents will be prepared for the power they will hold. But, perhaps it's the major parties and corporate Australia that are less prepared.

This is no triumph for Abbott
Michael Gawenda, Election 2010
Much is being made of Tony Abbott's 'magnificent' performance, but the Coalition's failure to win 76 seats is telling. Australians got it right – neither Labor nor the Coalition deserved to govern in their own right.

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