G20 meetings and structure part of the problem

There are parallel universes operating when it comes to neo-liberal politicians attempting to deal with reality. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors concluded their weekend talkfest in Cairns yesterday and you might be excused for thinking there is a jobs glut across their economies. As an aside, fortunately, this pathetic lot of individuals were meeting about as far north as one can go on the Australian continent, which meant they were kept out of the civilised parts of the nation where the rest of us live. Given Australia is currently hosting the G20 this year, the event gave our buffoon of a Federal Treasurer the chance to bathe in the limelight and deliver the major press conference.
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    Posted in Economics, IMF, Politics | 5 Comments

    Saturday Quiz – September 20, 2014 – answers and discussion

    Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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      Posted in Saturday quiz | 1 Comment

      Saturday Quiz – September 20, 2014

      Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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        Friday lay day

        Its my Friday lay day, which means a relative blog rest day. Relative is relative. This week saw the ramping up of the so-called ‘War on Terror’, which was a smokescreen George Bush and his conservative allies used to illegally invade countries that they didn’t like or who had strategic assets (such as oil) and who they knew couldn’t defend themselves. The pretext was to make the world safer but the reality is that it has made the world more dangerous. If we are to believe the press, yesterday’s raids in Sydney and Brisbane and subsequent press reporting suggests that some random citizens were about to be dragged off the street, beheaded with a nasty looking sword inscribed with Arabic characters, and then paraded on YouTube for the whole world to see. I think the whole ‘western’ response to all this is unwise.
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          Posted in Friday | 23 Comments

          CEO pay still out of control

          On September 15, 2014, the Melbourne Age article – Workers can forget about big pay rises for some time to come – summarised the wages outlook that workers can expect in the coming year as the labour market weakens. Its bleak. Meanwhile, CEO pay while down from the peaks of 2007 remains excessive according to a major survey released in Australia this morning. Depending on how one measures it, the average CEO of the Top 100 companies earns between 65 and 84 times what the average worker takes home each year. And these bosses lead the cheer squad when industry leaders and government ministers claim workers have to take pay cuts and surrender penalty rates and that the minimum wage should be abandoned. The neo-liberal obscenity survived the GFC and has now reorganised. Woe be us!
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            Posted in Labour costs, UK Economy, US economy | 6 Comments

            European Employment Strategy – barely a new job in sight

            Eurostat released the latest – Employment – data for July 2014 last week (September 12, 2014) and announced that total employment was up by 0.2 per cent in the euro area. For those that study the data closely you will not be confused. But for the casual observer you might have cause to puzzle. Has this been a sudden turnaround given that last quarter employment growth was firmly negative in Europe? The clue is that Eurostat publish two different measures of employment. The first (published last week) is derived from the National Accounts estimates whereas the other is derived from the Labour Force Survey. The latter doesn’t paint a very rosy picture at all. But whatever these data nuances, the European Commission is still facing a disaster and their latest policy response will do nothing much to alleviate the problem. But then why should we be surprised about that?
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              Posted in Economics, Eurozone | 12 Comments

              Japan’s growth slows under tax hikes but the OECD want more

              The OECD yesterday released their interim Economic Outlook and claimed that real economic growth around the world was slowing because of a lack of spending. Correct. But then they determined that structural reforms and further fiscal contraction was required in many countries, including Japan. Incorrect. The fact that they have departed from the annual release of the Outlook (usually comes out in May each year) indicates the organisation is suffering a sort of attention deficit disorder – they just crave attention and their senior officials love pontificating in front of audiences with their charts and projections that attempt to portray gravitas. No one really questions them about how wrong their last projections were or that cutting spending is bad for an economy struggling to grow. All the participants just get sucked into their own sense of self-importance because the event generates headlines and the neo-liberal deception rolls on. The OECD needs a reality check on Japan, but it isn’t the only organisation that is pumping out nonsense this week.
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                Posted in Economics, Japan | 7 Comments

                Public employment and other matters of scale

                I gave a keynote presentation at a recent conference where I showed that public sector employment contractions in Australia were a significant part of the rise in unemployment in Australia since the late 1980s. Had the public maintained its scale (proportion) with the underlying growth in the population then unemployment would have remained low throughout that period. The neo-liberal onslaught and the fiscal surplus fetishism has been a major reason why persistent unemployment occurs. All the nonsense about structural reform and the need to cut workplace protection overlook this fact. The government made a political decision to significantly cut its own employment and quite apart from the fluctuations in the private sector and the increased precariousness in private employment, that decision by government has had devastating consequences. The same situation arises in many advanced western nations under the spell of neo-liberalism. The thing about the current pro-market orthodoxy is that it has lost all sense of proportion. Mass unemployment involving billions of dollars of lost income is deliberately created by policy makers in search of a few pennies (relatively) in making ports work more quickly etc (microeconomic reform). In Europe, all sense of proportion has been lost. Read on …
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                  Posted in Economics | 11 Comments

                  Saturday Quiz – September 13, 2014 – answers and discussion

                  Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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                    Saturday Quiz – September 13, 2014

                    Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
                    Read the rest of this entry »

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