Posts Tagged ‘economic management’

You’re fired!

Does Julie Bishop not understand that her own party, never mind the rest of the country, decided they didn’t want her speaking about economic policy issues?

(Thanks to reader Bronwyn.)

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Apparently, he can sit on the shelf for a few more years.

P.S. It’s good that we have Peter van Onselen around – both to read the mind of the electorate (“MOST Australians would be feeling more comfortable right now if Peter Costello were still running the economy”), and to counterbalance the evil horde of socialist academics and school teachers who want to indoctrinate our kids.

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look over there!

I think there was a decent amount of opportunism in Rudd’s criticism of Malcolm – it tries to create equivalence with Robert McClelland’s recent comments. I tend to agree with Tim Dunlop – McClelland’s comments were downright stupid but I am not convinced that he should lose his job over it. What gets to me the most about it is that I had hoped we might be past the time of “tough on terror” being the principal value that Attorneys-General must endorse and be judged upon. They had just been convicted – why did the Government need to say anything more to highlight that terrorists will be sought out and prosecuted?

Back on the economic issues, Keri has a good post about the current crisis in the US and why Australia is not likely to see the same sort of problem.

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Plan for Change

Barack Obama has done something out of the ordinary for this US Presidential campaign – recorded a two-minute ad addressing substantive issues:

The ad then points viewers to his web site for more information on his economic plan.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has – being two minutes long, the ad is unlikely to get played for free in its entirety, but if it gets the focus back onto issues then it may still affect the media coverage. The concern will be that the media will juxtapose it with McCain’s own claims to have prophesied the current disaster and to be a champion of regulatory reform – both lies, of course.

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Having it both ways

I may have said this before, but the thing that makes Andrew Bolt’s blog successful is that he knows and works with his audience extremely well. This comes through not only in the things he writes, but also in what he leaves unwritten. Many of his blog posts are not so much about explicitly stating an opinion – and opening himself up to criticism of that opinion – as they are about setting up a context in which his conservative followers can make the definitive statements. Bolt and his commenters have become like an old married couple who can finish each other’s sentences.

Occasionally he will experiment, but he has learned to read his audience and back-pedal when needed – like when he offended Catholics yesterday by comparing them to “global warming believers”. A quick update was added:

Apologies to the readers below who are offended by the comparison. You are right: Catholicism is indeed more rational and benign than the green faith, and doesn’t demand forcible conversion.

But an example of Bolt’s more usual, minimalist approach is shown in two posts today that touch on issues of economic management. One, titled “The golden years“, simply quotes Alexander Downer’s assessment of the Howard Government’s legacy – including the fact that “We went through a golden era economically.” This gave his commenters an opportunity to agree wholeheartedly about the prosperity that the Howard era brought with it – and, of course, the way things have gone backwards from there.

A second post from this morning, titled “Rudd’s real climate change“, reported on Glenn Stevens’s recent comments about the economic prospects for the next few years. Andrew observed:

It seems the economy won’t give us great joy over the next few years, which is not going to help the unfortunate Rudd Government much, either:

The Reserve Bank governor yesterday spelled out a soft landing scenario that would allow him to cautiously continue reducing official interest rates and get inflation back under 3 per cent during the next three years. But it would be an extended period of below-average growth, in part making up for five years or more of excess.

Now, a commentator who wanted to engage in a bit of critical analysis might have tried to integrate this item with the other one. The Reserve Bank Governor predicts a slow growth period, “in part making up for five years or more of excess.” Doesn’t that suggest that perhaps the “sliding backwards” we are experiencing – and which the Boltheads blame on Rudd – was perhaps an inevitable by-product of the economy growing so rapidly over the final Howard years?

But Andrew not only failed to put two and two together – he also said very little about the causes of the current economic circumstances at all. Interestingly, he did use the word “unfortunate” to describe the Rudd Government. One might interpret that as suggesting that these are unlucky times to be seen as in charge of the economy – that it is out of their control, and yet they might suffer the public backlash. That doesn’t sound like something Andrew would actually say, though – but he leaves the implication dangling.

And that is where Bolt’s commenters come in. They dispel the implication that maybe something is not the Rudd Government’s fault. “Hapless,” not unfortunate, is what they are. Why, there’s even a suggestion that Kevin (sorry, “Krudd”) has engineered this with Glenn Stevens to make John Howard look bad. And there is lots of lamenting that Howard never received credit for the good economic times he delivered (perhaps by someone who didn’t see “The golden years” on Bolt’s blog – or perhaps by someone who couldn’t put two and two together). The “five years or more of excess” are carefully avoided.

This is just an example, but the process seems to be the same on many issues. This is how Bolt makes his blog a success. He doesn’t stick his own neck out too far – after reading those posts, I have no more information about how much credit or blame Andrew himself assigns to either the Howard or Rudd Governments for Australia’s economy. But he implies enough to give Teh Left something to disagree with, while providing fodder for his own followers to nod sagely in agreement. It’s a carefully threaded needle, and to my mind it is the one discernible talent he possesses.

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Follow up

A request for our political journalists. Instead of spending all of your time speculating about whether Peter Costello plans to stay in politics, whether Malcolm will challenge Brendan for the leadership, and creating your own little melodramas, can you follow up on this sort of statement?

But the former treasurer says the policies of the Rudd Government are largely to blame for Australia’s economic plight

“I think some big mistakes have been made in Australia,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence [that] after the accumulation of wealth like we’d never seen before, 10-11 per cent household wealth growth, year after year, suddenly it went backwards,” he said.

Perhaps ask the elusive little genius something along the lines of:

  • “Mr Costello, you have said that some big mistakes have been made in managing the Australian economy. What are those mistakes?”
  • “You spoke about the severe problems in the American economy resulting from the subprime lending crisis. Isn’t it true that this crisis has had implications for many Australian institutions, and hasn’t it contributed to the downturn in the Australian economy?”
  • “What, precisely, would you have done differently from the Rudd Government in managing the economy over the past nine months?”

In short, could you actually ask a question that requires him to back up his pathetic attempts at sniping from the sidelines? It would seem to me that this is much more important than trying to “Gotcha!” him by asking, “Will you miss federal politics?”

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Rates cut

One quarter of one per cent – confirming (again) that Brendan has no power to influence anything. Tip would have got it down a half. If he was in charge. If he could be bothered. But they wouldn’t back him last year, so he’s had enough. You’ll have to beg him to come back.

Then, and only then, will the Great Australian Dream of affordable houses for home-buyers (and investors), booming property values for home-sellers (and investors), rising wages, stable (maybe even falling?) prices, full employment, low taxation and excellent public infrastructure and services be realised.

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Yea, and the Messiah’s eyes shall be opened unto His own divinity and He shall ascend to His rightful place and He shall make things right in the world.

Perhaps it’s time for a reminder that correlation does not imply causation. In the time since Peter Costello ceased being Treasurer, other things that have happened include:

  • Collapse of the sub-prime credit market, driving up the cost of money.
  • The United States economy plunging steadily into recession.
  • The slowing, if not the end, of the resources boom.
  • Skyrocketing oil prices driving up the cost of living.

Perhaps someone should ask Tip what he would have done in anticipation of, or in response to, those global economic events. I would suggest that it might be a good idea to ask the question before anointing him as Saviour, but if not then perhaps he’ll have to answer it afterward.

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John Winston Howard now associates himself with Hawke and Keating:

During the course of his speech last night (twenty minutes, with no notes – “He’s still got it in him! He’s still sharp! No notes!” breathed my neighbour, admiringly) Howard made much of the resilience of the Australian economy.

He credited it to the “twenty-five years of reform” this nation has experienced.

It seems that he is trying to avoid standing in the spotlight alone – on anything other than economic issues, his legacy is pitiful.

(On economic issues, it’s negligible.)

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How does someone as rational as this manage to exist in the environment of the GG?

The Labor leader can end the auction today by announcing no new bribes, and focusing, instead, on public spending.

Neither leader can be sure when voters will awaken from their apparent slumber and notice the politician making one announcement too many. It could be Rudd today if he goes too far.

Here’s a reform to think about: all future elections should set a time limit on spending – a bribes blackout period, so to speak.

Policies should be announced by, say, the end of week three of the campaign. This would leave the run home to the ballot box for persuasion only.

It would make more sense to hold the leaders’ debate after all the promises are on the table. Pollsters tell us that a significant portion of voters make up their minds only in the final fortnight. Surely this is the zone when politicians should be made to earn their living without the crutch of a handout.

It is, of course, tempting to throw all election policies into the one pile to come up with an even larger number. Tempting, but misleading because a global total would include both handouts to voters and public expenditure on their behalf.

In the present economic climate, the Reserve Bank is more interested in the cash that is going straight into people’s pockets because, on present trends, that money is almost certain to be spent. Public expenditure, by contrast, rarely materialises on time, making it less likely to trouble monetary policy.

This is Rudd’s dilemma. If he produces another handout today, he risks the unwanted title of briber-in-chief.

There’s nothing more that needs to be said, really – I hope Kevin Rudd is listening.

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