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Keynes on national self-sufficiency

One of the emerging discussions is what will the post-coronavirus world look like both within nations and across nations. There is a growing thread about the worries of increased state authoritarianism as governments have imposed an array of restrictions. There is also an increasing debate about the need for nations to return to enhanced national self-sufficiency to avoid the disruptions in the global supply chain that the pandemic has created. In 1933, John Maynard Keynes gave a very interesting lecture on this topic in Dublin. In this blog post, I consider that lecture and assess its currency in the contemporary setting.

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    The Weekend Quiz – August 21-22, 2021 – answers and discussion

    Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’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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      The Weekend Quiz – August 21-22, 2021

      Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

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        Australian labour market – deteriorating but the worst is yet to come

        Today (August 19, 2021), the Australian Bureau of Statistics put out the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for July 2021. The background is that the entire East Coast is in or has been in lockdown over the last few months and for the two largest labour markets (NSW and Victoria) that lockdown has been very tight, although not tight enough in NSW. The July 2021 data reveals that employment growth has come to a stop, although the negative impacts of the lockdowns are mainly showing up as reduced working hours and falling participation rates at present. But the job losses will get worse next month given the extended disaster that is now unfolding in NSW. The impact of the slower population growth is showing up in the continued drop in the unemployment rate, but the major fall in unemployment in July 2021, was due to the decline in the participation rate. So the official unemployed are becoming hidden unemployment, which means there is no improvement in the falling jobless numbers. Further, underemployment rose sharply again (0.4 points) to 8.3 per cent which is consistent with the drop in working hours. The labour market is still 255.7 thousand jobs of where it would have been if employment had continued to grow according to the average growth rate between 2015 and February 2020. This month is the calm before the storm. The extended lockdowns will show up in deteriorating data next month. What is preventing a worse outcome is the fact that the lower population growth due to the external border closures, means that employers are now having to absorb the unemployed more quickly to maintain their operations. There is now definite evidence that further fiscal support is required.

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          Australia – parlous wages growth signals loss of worker purchasing power

          Today (August 18, 2021), the ABS released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the June-quarter 2021. The WPI data shows that nominal wages growth remains suppressed, and, as a result of the transitory spikes in inflation recently, workers in all sectors experienced sharp drops in their real wages (purchasing power). The behaviour of nominal wages in Australia gives us a clear signal that there is little prospect of sustained inflationary pressures emerging from the labour market any time soon. Wages in the public sector grew by only 1.3 per cent over the 12 months as a result of the ridiculous wage freezes and wage caps that the federal and state governments are imposing. This is not leadership at all.

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            Trends in the Northern Ireland labour market – Part 1

            The article in the Socialist Worker Review (No. 89, July/August 1986, pp. 19–21), by Eammon McCann – The protestant working class – has kept me thinking for some years. I recalled it the other day when I was updating my Northern Ireland labour market data and working on some text. As a result of reading this article many years ago, I became very interested in the labour market dynamics in Northern Ireland, in particular, as they impact on the debate about unification and EU membership (yes, I have always been anti-EU). In that vein, I have been following the trends over time rather closely. More recently, the central place of the North Ireland Protocol in the Brexit discussions has increased the relevance of this research. I also benefitted from some very interesting conversations a few years ago with my host in Galway (forever thankful Niall), while I was visiting the Republic of Ireland on a speaking trip. These conversations filled in many gaps in my understanding of some of nuances of the issues involved. These trends provide some good background to what has been happening in a region that is undergoing significant change and how we might assess the Northern Ireland Protocol in a post-Brexit world. It also helps us understand the demise of the DUP as a relevant political force. They represent a different era. From my understanding, it is also the major economic changes that have been taking place in Northern Ireland that are more likely to influence the trend away from identifying as either unionist or nationalist or proceeding along ‘religious’ lines. A working class impoverished by austerity is a powerful solidifying force. The labour market has changed dramatically over the last several decades. In this multi-part series, I provide some reflections on these issues. This is part of a book project I am working on (more about which later).

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              Time for a debate about re-nationalisation

              In the wake of further Covid angst in Australia, the airlines are once again laying off thousands of workers. One of the airlines, Qantas, formerly the publicly-owned national carrier announced last week major job cuts soon after it secured a rather substantial rescue package from the Federal government. Qantas makes a habit of crying poor despite paying its executives slavishly large salaries and aggressively using its market power to undermine smaller regional airlines that have served Australia for years. Mainstream economists, who were cheer boys for the privatisation in the first place, continue to extol the virtues of selling off the airline at bargain prices to private interests. The reality is however different. The airline provides an overpriced service and can no longer be considered the ‘national carrier’, even though it continues to trade on that reputation. So, today, Scott from Griffith University, who has been one of my regular research colleagues over a long period of time, reexamines the case in the light of recent evidence to bring the airline back into public ownership. Over to Scott …

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                The Weekend Quiz – August 14-15, 2021 – answers and discussion

                Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’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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