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The gloom gets gloomier – national accounts!

The long-awaited National Account data was released today by the ABS and shows that the Australian economy is now sliding along the zero line. The headline result was that the measure of overall economic activity, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 0.5 per cent in the December quarter. This is the first negative result since December 2000. So one more negative quarter and we will all cry recession. For the 12 months December 2008, the economy grew by the very modest 0.3 per cent but this was driven by agriculture. Non-farm GDP did not grow at all over that same period. What are the signs for employment and what is the government doing? Here are some of my thoughts …

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    Deficit spending 101 – Part 3

    This is Part 3 in Deficits 101, which is a series I am writing to help explain why we should not fear deficits. In this blog we consider the impacts on fiscal deficits on the banking system to dispel the recurring myths that deficits increase the borrowing requirements of government and that they drive interest rates up. The two arguments are related. The important conclusions are: (a) deficits introduce dynamics which put downward pressure on interest rates; and (b) debt issuance by government does not “finance” its spending. Rather debt is issued to support monetary policy which is expressed as the desire by the RBA to maintain a target interest rate.

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      2 more trees

      This weekend I planted two more trees as part of my little bit to save the world! A lovely Hakea and a Grevillea. I also added more vertical growing space for vegetables.

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      Peter Green playing again

      Peter Green was the best electric guitar player of all time (that’s my view anyway) and I loved his sound and phrasing. His Gibson Les Paul (1959 model) was accidentally modified (he put the magnets back in upside down) and he discovered in the middle position he got an out-of-phase tone that honked so strongly that the mod remained. Unfortunately he took too much acid and had a disposition to mental illness and spent most of time since the 1970s in various states of ill health occasionally re-appearing to play again. Never regaining the dominance of the 1960s though. But once again he is playing again and this time he is sounding better.

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        ABC bias … what might have been

        Lat night’s ABC 7.30 Report had a segment titled Australian economy resilient in tough times. It was so bad I was prompted to write to the ABC complaining of their neo-liberal bias. All the commentators were the usual coterie of investment bankers and private consultants all of who have particular vested interests which are not disclosed when they are held out by the ABC as so-called experts! Not one independent researcher was included in the segment. In another world, this might have been the way the show evolved.

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          Defence pay and Centrelink abuse

          There is an interesting labour market case of national interest at present relating the the overpayment of Special Air Service (SAS) troops who have been serving in Afghanistan and who have faced debt recovery action for such overpayments of allowances of up to $50,000. The case has led to calls for the Federal Defence Minister to be sacked for daring to ask our soldiers to pay back the cash. Another labour market group has for years been subject to so-called “debt-recovery” actions from the Federal government and the sums are nothing like $50,000. Yet the press has been largely silent on the plight of this latter group even though I would argue they are among our most disadvantaged citizens. The juxtaposition highlights the inconsistency of the public debate and the selective treatment of individuals by our Federal government who should be treating us equally according to our rights as Australian citizens.

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            It’s a demand problem Kevin!

            In response to criticism that the Federal government has failed to do anything significant for the unemployed or those about to become unemployed they have announced they will provide an extra $300 million funding for Job Network providers to help the retrenched workers get jobs. This initiative confirms my worst fears that this is a government that has failed to learn the lessons of the past.

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              Economic crisis talk (updated)

              Yesterday I gave a presentation on the origins of the global financial crisis to a business forum in Newcastle. You can listen to an edited version of the talk (runs for around 30 minutes) at the CofFEE Podcast site. You…

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              Underemployment rising – redux

              As a follow up to my blog on underemployment this afternoon, I was interviewed on national ABC radio programme PM this evening. You can read the transcript here PM Transcript. You can also listen to the podcast (courtesy of the ABC) from the CofFEE podcast site. The discussion also had Ian Harper from the Fair Pay Commission on. You will not be surprised to hear that I totally disagree with him on minimum wage setting.

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