I had been doing my best to avoid writing about the Whitehaven Coal hoax perpetrated by Johnathan Moylan which we have all now heard about. But today I read a piece about the elaborate hoax and I decided that I just had to chime in. The wonderful piece was written by Mungo MacCallum and has to be the strangest take on the radical and irresponsible act that I have read to date. In short, MacCallum’s stance places him places him in a small and exclusive group- with a few Greens MP’s.
For those of you who have lived under a rock since last week, the disgraceful act perpetrated by Mr Moylan involved him issuing a fake press release purporting to be from ANZ, saying that the bank had reconsidered and was withdrawing their support of Whitehaven Coal. The stupid stunt fooled the press and the markets. Whitehaven shares dropped 9% on the news, an extraordinary slump by anyone’s estimation and the company lost $300 million in value before the ridiculous ploy was revealed.
But back to the post in question. The blog starts off with an introductory line about the media and standards, though one easily detects more than a hint of sarcasm in that line. This was followed by almost a whole paragraph where neither the act, now being investigated by ASIC, nor the man behind it was mentioned. Indeed, it is only the last two words which introduce us to the key player in the affair and not the event itself. That is outlined in the next paragraph.
The paragraph after that, at first glance, appears innocent enough. MacCallum talks about the money lost by investors and almost appears to call out Mr Moylan for his dumb and fraudulent act. Almost. But if you know Mungo’s work, then you should quickly realise that the sarcasm present early on will likely infest the whole article, and it does. The subtle quip about private property in that same paragraph should have given the game away for me- he’s perhaps not much of a fan of such indulgence.
From the next paragraph it becomes painfully obvious to all and sundry where the argument is headed. All doubt is from then on easily cast aside. MacCallum goes on to make excuses for Moylan, somehow equating how rumours influence the market with a deliberate act intended to deceive the market. But all deliberate attempts to deceive the market are simply unjustifiable, no matter how commendable or otherwise, the cause behind them is.
The piece becomes even more laughable when, in the second last paragraph, Mr MacCallum states that the stockmarket “thoroughly deserves having the mickey taken out of it as often as possible”. It is thoroughly wrong and not at all humorous to characterise what Mr Moylan did as some fine and dandy little piss take of the market.
Mr MacCallum, the carefully planned actions of Johnathan Moylan were not simply “a bit of satire to make an environmental point”. The only people laughing are you and a few Greens MP’s silly enough to quickly shun a transparently fake attempt at trying to appeal to the mainstream. There are probably a number of Greens supporters that applaud Moylan’s actions too, but frankly that number is likely so inconsequential.
The rest of us are not amused.