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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.

SMSFs offer 'pension fund socialism'

1 Comment
12 August 2014 | David James

Investment Decision GraphicIn 1976 management thinker Peter Drucker said the real owners of the stock market were workers, through their pension funds. A similar broadening of ownership has occurred in Australia since the creation of compulsory superannuation. But intermediaries called fund managers still stood between the people and ultimate control of their financial destiny, until the rise of the Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF).

Commbank plunder part of new world economic order

06 July 2014 | David James

Commbank logoAs the Pope and economist Thomas Pikkety have observed in recent times, the inequity created by capitalism is a growing concern. But the problem with this argument is that 'capitalism' is too broad a term. The attack would be far better directed against the financialisation of developed economies. A new type of sovereign has emerged, and like all rulers they are cheerfully engaging in acts of plunder.

Super's evil empire on shaky ground

10 June 2014 | Brian Toohey

Angry piggy bankThe superannuation industry inhabits a cosseted world in which the money pours in thanks to a combination of government compulsion and tax concessions. The foundations of this empire are criticised for how the tax concessions create an expensive form of upper class welfare, and for the harmful effect of compulsory super's artificial expansion of the finance sector. The Abbott Government shows scant concern about either aspect.

Blessed are the moneymakers

15 May 2014 | David James

Sad piggy bankThe 2014 Federal Budget has created a new hierarchy of virtue in Australian society, with well off investors deemed to be good and the disadvantaged bad. It is not so much class war as a war between capital and the rest of society. Those wielding significant capital are useful, while those who can save little, and have little to invest, are considered a burden.

Whose liberty matters as Dickensian budget looms?

06 May 2014 | Fatima Measham

Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the 21st CenturyFrench economist Thomas Piketty argues that current conditions have set us on track for a return to 19th century-levels of inequality. The Commission of Audit proposals suggest that the auditors and the Government are keen to expedite this neo-Dickensian era. It's all done in the name of 'incentives' toward 'personal responsibility', but this cannot remain coherent in the face of those who will be hit hard by the proposed suite of cuts and co-payments.

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