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Recessions are terrible …

Today in the Fairfax press, economics writer Ross Gittins in an article entitled No good reason to feel depression claims that we should not be too worried about the looming recession because after all things aren’t likely to be that bad. Well from my perspective recessions are episodes that wreak havoc on the most disadvantaged citizens in our society and should never occur.

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    Guitar mastery

    On Monday I was doing some work in Melbourne and took advantage of the location to see Jeff Beck at the old Palais Theatre in St Kilda on Monday night. I love the Palais and have seen some great things there. This was the first time I had seen Jeff Beck live and only the second time he has been to Australia. He is a masterful player of the instrument that has defined our generation of music. He played a white (could be cream) stratocaster through what looked liked a 50w single stack Marshall and another Fender blackface twin  amp (I wasn’t close enough to see which type). He use an octave divider and some overdrive (pedals were obscured behind foldback) but not much else.

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      From boom to bust …

      The Sydney Morning Herald is running a series at present looking at the labour market prospects in the coming year. It is a welcome return of emphasis to the massive labour wastage that this country endures given that the major media has up until now largely bought the erroneous “we are at full employment” rhetoric pumped out by the previous federal government.

      The story entitled Statistics point to hard time on job front, written by Andrew West and Jessica Irvine and published today (January 24, 2009) began with:

      AS MANY as 2 million Australians could be jobless or working fewer hours than they would like by the next federal election – the highest rate of “labour wastage” in a generation …

      An analysis by a leading labour economist, Professor Bill Mitchell of the University of Newcastle, predicts the total rate of labour wastage could rise to about 20 per cent of the workforce by mid-2010.

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        The paradigm shift in economic policy

        The extraordinary events in world financial markets which have undermined the basis of capitalism have led to equally amazing Government responses – massive injections of public spending, nationalisations of banks and bailouts of huge financial institutions with little regard for the relevant shareholder interests.

        A major paradigm shift is occurring in economic thinking away from the free market deregulation era that has dominated since the 1970s. All the logic that justified government cut backs; the run down of public infrastructure; the harsh treatment of welfare recipients; the wasteful privatisations, and the rest of the neo-liberal litany that served to transfer wealth from poor to rich and create an disadvantaged underclass has been destroyed by these events.

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          Treasury ignorance!

          How bad is it when the Treasurer of the nation fails a test in basic national accounts (the material that is covered in Macroeconomics 101)? And how bad is it when he also reveals a fundamental ignorance of the basic operations of the monetary system? When the Senate moved to block the luxury car tax yesterday, the Treasurer Wayne Swan was quoted (see http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/09/04/2354836.htm) as follows: “If the surplus is raided to a significant extent that will be on the head of Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party, who are clearly saying that into the future, they prefer a higher level of interest rates than we otherwise might have”. In fact, if he had even the remotest understanding of the way the modern monetary economy works he would know that surpluses put upward pressure on interest rates, other thing equal, while deficits put downward pressure.

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            Welcome to my new blog

            Hello all: It has taken me a while to get a new blog going - a lot of projects going on at the moment. But I hope to resume more regular posts now I have sorted out this infrastructure which…

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            More bad Euro data

            As a brief follow up to yesterday, German labour force data came out yesterday (Tuesday) and reveal that unemployment rose sharply in December and the disgraceful barrier of a record 5 million unemployed is now highly likely in early 2005. In December there were 4.48 million unemployed or 10.8 per cent of the active population. This is the highest level since 1990 and the second highest level in the whole period since World War II.

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              Germany attacks its unemployed!

              Australia is not alone in mistreating our disadvantaged and unemployed citizens. As a portent of things to come in Australia after July 2005, tough new labour market reforms came into law in Germany on January 1. The Hartz IU reforms received a bit of European press in the last few days. I read two stories over the last few days, one in the German paper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) under the heading – Hartz-IV-Chaos! Kann ich meine Stütze bar abholen? – and another from the French daily Le Monde that provided some useful insights into the how a country that refuses to provide enough work for its citizens turns on the same.

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                Unemployment shame to increase!

                In the Melbourne Age today (January 3, 2005), the forecasts of 18 economists for the year ahead. The group was overwhelmingly comprised of economists with vested corporate sector interests with only one academic economist being included. They make interesting reading given I also indulge in a bit of crystal ball gazing myself.

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