The breakfast news post (as seen at JUSTB)

The breakfast news post (as seen at JUSTB)
The Aussie economy is robust, for sure, but the outlook isn’t so perky as we near the silly season. Treasurer Wayne Swan will be trimming back government spending as it aims for a surplus next year, an optimistic goal given the dire state of global markets.

While it has not been a year for the fiscally flighty, and Woolworths is gearing up to extend its march on grocery aisles in a timely boost to its generic “house-brand” items, ING DIRECT suggests we won’t be able to help ourselves once the festive season is in full swing.

While 37% of us want to build more savings before we hit the mall, 28% of Australians and 41% of households with high savings are making their Christmas shopping lists pronto.

Somewhat worryingly, ING reports a set of statistics showing us how cosy we are with credit card debt: “54% of households say they are ‘very comfortable’ with card debt – the highest since the [Financial Wellbeing Index] started in Q1 2010.” This confidence in credit debt is in cahoots with dismal feelings about personal savings: 34% of Aussies told ING they are ‘very uncomfortable’ with savings, while confidence in the ability to pay bills is at a low also. Oh, no.

Interest rates were cut last week, which was great news for mortgage holders, though the added padding around household bellies is also due to savvy personal saving schemes. We are a clever bunch! ING also found 28% of households want to nip debt in the bud before they resume spending and 43% of Gen Y Aussies prioritise saving over spending. We say, get these smart financial planners to the Greek…

Humbly conceding that “the last thing I care about is my post”, embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papendreou is the star of his own Nightmare Before Christmas. Having finally reached agreement on forming a coalition government with opposition leader Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy Party, which will see approval for the 130 billion euro bailout the country needs, there remain calls for his resignation.

“The Greek problem proceeds Papendreou by 20 or 30 years,” a sympathetic Oliver Marc Hartwich of the Centre For Independent Studies told ABC News 24 this morning. Is Papendreou the KRudd of Greece?

Hardly a stranger to dramatic parliamentary scenes, Julia Gillard went to the top of the class at the G20 summit in Cannes with her carbon tax legislation, which is set to pass through the Senate tomorrow. But, as the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. Other nations, while quick to pat Gillard on the back, are going to sit this one out for now; or at least until 2014, when Australia will host the next G20.

Holiday season’s high rotation of social engagements make for plenty of opportunities for the faux pas. Kicking things off is Kelly Rowland who let the cat out of the bag when she let slip on a London red carpet that Beyonce and Jay-Z are expecting a little girl in February. “She won’t be spoilt but she will be very well looked after,” said Aunty Rowland. Oopsie.

Getting into the spirit, while Julia Gillard has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan en route from the G20 in France, Anna Bligh is giving Queenslanders the gift of public holidays for Christmas. The State Government will announce today that an extra public holiday will be created this year because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday and next year the Queen’s birthday will be celebrated not once but twice to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Yippee!

The Queen is clearly not one to rest on her laurels: do we have too many public holidays already?

Girl With a Satchel