Hey, great news! Australia’s unemployment rate fell by 0.4 per cent last month! Did you hear?
You didn’t? That’s funny. I was sure Joe would tell you.
What do you mean, it rose by 0.4 per cent? Oh, you’re talking about the ABS figure! Yeah, that’s bad, but if you look at what happened to the Roy Morgan unemployment rate, the news is really good: it’s fallen from 10.6 per cent to 10.2 per cent! If this keeps up, pretty soon unemployment in Australia will be below 10 per cent!
Genevieve Tran, who blogs at Money Big and Small, is teaming up with graphic artist Miguel Guerra and Suzy Dias, who do the cartoons on IDEAeconomics and produce the indi-comic Super Corporate Heroes, are teaming up to produce a graphic novel version of Debunking Economics.
Genevieve is putting together a video and has sent out the following call:
A request to world-wide friends: if you don’t remember ever learning about important things like how banks, debt or money work (=Economics, Finance!), in high school, could I ask you to submit a video of yourself shrugging and shaking your head? It’s for a kickstarter video to learn about Economics in a non-horrible way: thru comic books! Yes, I’ll give you a first copy! Any video quality. H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DV, and AIC format.
What are your preconceptions about the author of a book with the title The Next Economic Disaster: Why It’s Coming and How to Avoid It? Academic? Leftist? Anti-capitalist? Anti-banker certainly?
Prepare to drop them all, because the author is none of the above. Taking the last first, the majority of his career has been in banking — and as a founder and CEO.
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Mainstream economists have long ignored the dynamics of private debt, money and banks to their detriment. Now more than ever, a realistic and non-orthodox approach to economics is needed.
Last week I made my first overseas trip on which I ticked the box ‘Australian resident departing permanently’. It’s given me cause to reflect on my career as an academic economist (and part-time journalist) in Australia.
The Murray inquiry's observations on financial advice, household debt and super are commendable, but its boneheaded proposal for the government to underwrite RMBS is a concern.
A government report is always a Parson’s Egg, and I’ll start with the parts of this one that were excellent. These were its wariness about and observations on superannuation, financial advice and household debt.
The Commonwealth Bank’s response to the Senate investigation of ASIC blames incompetence and individuals for the scandals at Commonwealth Financial Planning Limited. Chief executive Ian Narev: “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 to 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that.”
This is the predictable ‘rotten apple’ defence to allegations of impropriety. And it is simply absurd to describe some of the alleged actions of those advisers noted by the Senate Report – such as “forgery and dishonest concealment of material facts” (Senate Inquiry Executive Summary, p. xviii) — as merely “poor advice”. If the bank can describe that as “poor advice”, then a bank robber would be entitled to describe his profession as “making withdrawals”.
The Abbott government has reacted with predictable disdain to attacks over its policies on refugees, homeless, university students, unemployed, and welfare recipients. And why shouldn’t it? These are complaints from people who normally wouldn’t vote for them anyway, while the policies themselves appeal not only to “bolted on” Liberal voters, but also to disaffected Labor voters. It’s good politics, even if the bad press means a temporary hit in the opinion polls.
The European Stability and Growth Pact is based on the principle that stability and growth are enhanced when government deficits are either minimised or eliminated. I want you to dispassionately consider an argument that reaches a different conclusion. It may sound like something you have heard before from others and already dismissed. But bear with me.
I’ve spent the past two weeks in Europe, with speaking engagements in Italy, Greece and Austria. This was my first visit to Greece, and my first chance to get an admittedly superficial tourist’s view of what a country with Great Depression levels of unemployment looks like.
It didn’t look like anything in particular until the drive from Athens, Greece’s capital and largest city, to Thessaloniki, its second largest. Then it struck me: the roads were near empty — as the toll booth shown in Figure 1 illustrates. My host Nikos reckons he has done a million kilometers over the years on this 500km drive, and he confirmed that roads which were now virtually empty were once full of cars, and especially trucks — that mobile sign of a thriving economy.
This is the talk I gave on this topic in Vienna yesterday. Once I have time, I’ll post the slides and the data.
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