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Dollar bulletproofs US economy

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03 October 2013 | David James

US DollarAmerica is fond of claiming exceptionalism, which is usually little more than an indication of its attitude to moral accountability. But in one area America definitely is exceptional: the global currency markets. There is no risk of the market for American dollars drying up, which means that a default by the American government is, while significant, not especially relevant to what happens with the global trade in US dollars.

Life and death issues the election campaign missed

05 September 2013 | David James

House made of blocks, crumblingTwo of the most important issues to have been given scant attention in the election campaign are ageing and property. Even less noticed is the inter-relationship between the two. The effect of ageing on property prices will be arguably the most important financial challenge facing Australian governments over the coming decades.

Boost budget by chopping charities' tax take

26 August 2013 | David James

Man cutting dollar sign with scissorsAustralia is one of only a few countries in the world that has a franking credit system. Though it is designed to stop 'double taxation' on company tax, in many cases it ends up being a 'double reward' for entities that already have tax favoured status. Last year the Tax Commissioner generously refunded over $500 million to charities and not-for-profits on dividends because they pay no tax.

Which party really has the economic smarts?

12 August 2013 | David James

A depiction of a person's mind as a series of cogs and gears, one of which is marked with a dollar signAs the China boom fades Australia is experiencing a delayed version of the GFC, without the banking crisis. Until now we've been reasonably well served by both sides of politics, in terms of macro-economic strategy. Now we require a way of dealing with more mundane economic issues like productivity and efficiency. Neither side has many good ideas about how to achieve the required structural shifts.

Aussie dollar falls to fast money folly

02 July 2013 | David James

Falling dollar signsA currency's value is supposed to represent the state of the country's underlying economy. Yet very little changed about the Australian economy during a week in which the value of the dollar was substantially altered. It is a small instance of how rapidly change occurs in currency markets, sometimes to devastating effect, and another reason why the capital markets are ruling rather than serving.

How financial devils came to rule the universe

04 June 2013 | David James

Red devil in a business suit holds up a flaming globeReligious authorities may not spend a lot of time pondering the nature of global financial systems, but the Pope's recent comment that 'money has to serve, not rule' suggests it can be useful when they do. Given scope to become rule makers, rather than just people who know how to exploit the rules, financiers have moved themselves to a position of mastery.

Banksters' deadly game of Sheldon's three-person chess

30 April 2013 | David James

Cartoonish version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory pointing at a chartIn The Big Bang Theory Sheldon invents a game of chess which 'utilises a three-sided board with transitional quadrilateral-to-triangular tessellation to solve the balanced centre combat-area problem'. This gobbledegook sounds suspiciously similar to the application of mathematical models to financial securities in derivatives markets.

The truth about middle class welfare

08 April 2013 | David James

Yellow placard, 'The Truth About Middle Class Welfare'Commentary on the proposed changes to tax on super has created the impression that the truly needy will miss out on extra cash as politicians pander to middle class voters. This is almost entirely false. In terms of where tax dollars are allocated, Australia has definitely concentrated on lower class welfare.

Big business twists tax truth

26 March 2013 | David James

'Tax' spelled out in Scrabble squaresAustralia's business lobbies are fond of complaining that company tax is too high. Lower it, they argue, and the economy would become more dynamic and everyone would benefit. The reality isn't that simple. The combination of Australia's dividend imputation system and the compulsory super scheme greatly benefit Australia's big companies.

Don't bet on the Australian dollar

07 February 2013 | David James

Australian dollar coins

This week the Australian dollar reached its lowest point in three months. Tangible factors such as interest rates and trade with China influence its strength. But what really determines the direction of our currency is the whim of the currency traders. In that sense, the Aussie is is arguably the most 'unreal', or virtual currency in the world.

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