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The IMF has failed Greece

30 June 2015 | David James

Christine LagardeInternational Monetary Fund prescriptions have a long history of failing, and countries that ignore them are often the ones that do surprisingly well. Few have been asked to be more servile than the Greeks. When the IMF came in with what is amusingly referred to as its austerity 'plan', the Greek economy was expected to grow at over 2 per cent. After the 'plan' had taken effect, the country’s economy had shrunk by a quarter.

Management thinking in schools is a bad business

08 June 2015 | David James

Social ScienceAllowing such a flimsy discipline as management to co-opt an area as important as education, as appears to be the trend, is as absurd as it is saddening. Education has been with us for thousands of years and encompasses some of the most profound thinking the civilisation has produced. Management thinking has been with us for a few decades and has accomplished next to nothing.

Ukraine conflict heightens global economic split

27 April 2015 | David James

pavement divided by zipperThe conflict in the Ukraine has attracted a great deal of attention for its geo-strategic implications. Less noticed have been the economic implications. The sanctions placed on Russia have forced Russia to become even closer to China, and the alliance between a military superpower and an economic superpower is beginning to split the global economy in two. It may come to represent the biggest geo-economic and geo-political shift of the first half of this century, defining much of the future landscape.

Joe Hockey's crystal ball

05 March 2015 | David James

The 2015 Intergenerational Report is reminiscent of a comment by that great 20th century philosopher and baseball player Yogi Berra: 'It’s tough to make predictions – especially about the future.' Many economic commentators have pointed out, rightly enough, that Treasury cannot even get its one year predictions right. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at how the 40 year forecasts are constructed to see the kind of thinking involved.

Oil and gas redraw world strategic alliance map

15 February 2015 | David James

Petrol PumpSanctions against Russia have pushed Russia and China much closer together. Russia is set to provide two fifths of China’s gas needs after the completion of two massive pipelines. This will easily replace what they have lost in supplying Europe and deliver what the Chinese most crave: security of supply. Meanwhile, Russia has cut off 60 per cent of its supplies of gas into Europe, re-routing it to Turkey, and saying that Europe will have to build its own infrastructure to transport it to the Continent.

Hapless Joe Hockey

09 December 2014 | David James

Joe HockeyOne of the fascinating aspects of Australia's political pantomime is the manner in which the Federal Treasurer is forced to metamorphose into a used car salesman who is spruiking the Australian economy. One reason for the relative impotence of the Treasurer is that the Federal government only has control over fiscal policy. Monetary policy, the interest rate, is set by the Reserve Bank, not the government.

Why the rich are getting richer

18 November 2014 | David James

Businessman examining moneyInvesting capital in the production of goods and services may create jobs, but it's not the best way to make money. It's more profitable to manipulate the financial system to create more money from money, which is why the finance sector does so well. The polarisation of wealth is less extreme in Australia, but we have our own capital-driven Ponzi scheme - the residential property market, which has become an exercise in making money out of money. 

Who will feel better after Medibank privatisation?

12 October 2014 | David James

Medibank Private advertisingFederal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann announced 'the scoping study found no evidence that premiums would increase as a result of the sale' of Medibank Private. But the sale is being presented as a way to make the fund more efficient. If successful, Medibank Private will become even more dominant than it is at present and there will be pressure to raise premiums to achieve its purpose of keeping shareholders happy.

Australia's new secret police

09 October 2014 | Brian Toohey

Cover of book 'Maralinga'Suppressing information can actually damage national security. President Kennedy intervened to get the New York Times to withhold sensitive details from a report about the imminent invasion of Cuba by CIA sponsored exiles in April 1961. Times executives said Kennedy later told them, 'If you had printed more about the [CIA] operation, you would have saved us from a colossal mistake.'

Australia's delayed GFC

07 September 2014 | David James

House sitting on blocksWhat is only now starting to come into focus is the extent to which the whole economy is in hock to house prices. A sharp fall in the housing market will put intense pressure on our major lending institutions, leading to a deeply depressing effect on all parts of the economy. The regulators, as ever, are taking a hands-off approach.

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