My semi-regular check of the stock market recovery

Regular readers have probably been waiting for this post; wondering when I would get around to it. Well here it is.

My semi-regular complaint about the stock market recovery after the 2007 Global Financial Crisis (GFC). And as you would be aware, eight and half years after the GFC hit, the Australian share market—measured using the All Ordinaries index—is still 1,000+ point under the pre-GFC level.

So anyone who had a 'balanced' share portfolio on the Australian share market when the GFC hit is still under water by about 15 percent.

On the upside, market 'experts' are telling us that we should get back the pre-GFC peak of 6,828 by mid-2018.

But if I were you I would not put too much faith in this because a similar forecast has been made every year over the last three years and Australia's current financial status right now is not that flash.

If, per chance, you have ever wondered how the US share market has done since the GFC then you would probably be a little peeved to know it is back well above pre-GFC levels; and has been for four years.

The US Dow Jones index got back to pre-GFC level in the first quarter of 2013.

It makes the statement oft repeated by the Australian Federal government that (para-phrased) 'Australia weathered the GFC better than any other county' seem a little questionable.

Leaked images of the new 2018 Subaru XV?

Found on the Web ... are these leaked images of the new 2018 Subaru XV?

I think they might be.

Looks okay to me.

The new 2.0 litre engine is marginally more powerful than the existing XV engine plus the CVT in the 2018 model has been tweaked for a better take-off; so I really hope it does the 0 - 100 kph in under 9 seconds. Anything slower is too slow.

While the overall body size is apparently about 10 percent larger than the current model, due to the new global platform being used the body weight is reported to be slightly less. This all helps with a better 0 - 100 time.

HSD: When did PULP95 petrol get 17c more expensive that ULP?

I guess I sort of knew something was going on. It was costing more to fill my car with petrol (that's 'gas' for my American readers). But I sort of dismissed it as the cost of petrol gradually creeping up—which is has been.

Then the other day I took notice and I was stunned to work out that premium unleaded petrol (PULP), which is 95 RON in Australia, was now 17 cents per litre more expensive than normal unleaded petrol (91 RON).

Holy Snapping Duckshit! 17 cents dearer for PULP—with your average 50 litre fill up that adds $8.50 to your gas bill on each fill. Based on the average of 1.5 fills per week that comes up to around $650 per year extra.

Long time readers may just remember that I did a post some time ago when I notices that PULP had gone up from 10 cents to being 12 cents more expensive than ULP. You can find that post here. That was July 2012.

And before that I had done a post about the difference going from 6 to 8 to 10 cents. That post is here.

So the additional cost per litre that we pay for 95 RON PULP has gone from 6 cents to 17 cents in the space of about six years. Almost tripled.

Anyone want to have a bet on what the difference will be by Xmas? I will be surprised if it is not very close to 20 cents. A nice even $10.00 extra per average fill.

Lately the Australian government has been considering the idea of cutting out 91 RON ULP because apparently it's 'dirty'. Well, dirtier than PULP anyway. It seems that cutting out ULP would be so good for the environment; and maybe it would too. I have no idea how much dirtier 91 RON than 95 RON when burnt in a car's engine.

But my thinking here is the that gasoline companies want to get that difference up as high as possible before that happens so they can make a very nice little premium from their premium petrol.

Something completely unexpected: MINI Cooper S Countryman SUV

Long time readers will know that I am a big fan of Subaru. One of the reasons for this is that I very much like a highly reliable car. For me reliability is far and away my number one criteria.

I realise this seems a little silly in these modern days of smartphones and road service everywhere. If anything you would expect that reliability would be in the lower half of anyone's top ten criteria. But I come from the country and the need for reliability is deeply seated in my brain.

If there is one key factor about Subaru then it is reliability. The trade off is that, by and large, they always lag in the latest in-cabin 'stuff'; they tend not to be the best looking designs; their economy figures are usually nothing to shout about; and their service charges (if you go back to the dealer) tend to be on the high side.

But they are very reliable mechanically and their engines last forever—often outlasting the chassis and bodywork.

However, just recently, the new MINI Cooper S Countryman has caught my eye.

This latest 2017 model is not due to be released in Australia until mid-March. As you can probably tell from the picture, it is bigger than the 'normal' MINI Cooper. And it's faster. With a baby turbo bolted to the 2.0 litre engine it does the 0 - 100 kph in a respectable 7.2 seconds with two people in the car.

The MINI Cooper S, which—let's face it—is basically a BMW by another name, has the new eight speed automatic from the BMW X1 and X2 in it.

The Countryman is marketed as an SUV but its SUV credentials are unlikely to match those of the Subaru XV or Forester. To begin with the XV has 8" clearance whereas the Countryman has a claimed 7"—which is about the same as a 'normal' car used to have in the 1980s.

BMW have worked hard to try and retain that distinctive MINI style and look inside the cabin while at the same time making it modern.

Notice the heads-up display above the steering wheel. Nice touch. And like most heads-up displays it is retractable (for when you don't want a heads-up display).

Another interesting feature is the 'picnic' seat that can be folder out of the back.

Overall the new Countryman is about 10 percent larger than the outgoing model. Most of this additional room comes thanks to the BMW X1 platform that the Countryman is built on.

I expect that this new model Countryman is going to be about the size of the original Subaru Forester.

As I say: Interesting . . .

You can find more pictures here ... should you want to.

Tributes and the Blue Nose Bears

Almost sounds like the name of a rock band. Like the Tributes could be a trio of female singers and the Blue Nose Bears could be the backing band.

But that is not what this post is about. It is about my latest submission into ViewBug and 500 Pixels.

If you have accounts at either 500 pixels or ViewBug then please login and vote my picture up. You can always find my pictures by searching for Abalook.

Following is a slightly different view of the same set up. In this shot I have raised the tripod about 1.5 feet to get a higher view. As you can also see, the lighting is a little stronger for this shot.

When I posted to ViewBug and 500 pixels I preferred the first angle because of the lack of shadows behind the bottom row of bears. But now I am sort of preferring the second angle because it shows off the heels slight better. You can see the full length of the heel whereas it look shortened in the first picture.