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Tuesday 1st December 2015 - 3:28 pm
Comments Off on Rates:Glenn Stevens explains

Rates:Glenn Stevens explains

by Alan Thornhill

At its meeting today, the Reserve bank. Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.0 per cent.

In a statement afterwards the bank’s Governor, Glenn Stevens, said the global economy is expanding at a moderate pace.
He noted that there had been some softening in conditions in the Asian region,.

But Mr Stevens also said there had been “continuing US growth and a recovery in Europe.”

He said:” Key commodity prices are much lower than a year ago.”

Mr Stevens said, this reflected “increased supply, including from Australia, as well as weaker demand.”
He warned:“Australia’s terms of trade are falling.”
Mr Stevens said:“ (the)Federal Reserve is expected to start increasing its policy rate over the period ahead, but some other major central banks are continuing to ease monetary policy.”

Hoowever, her added:“Volatility in financial markets has abated somewhat for the moment.
“ While credit costs for some emerging market countries remain higher than a year ago, global financial conditions overall remain very accommodative,” Mr Stevens said.

“In Australia, the available information suggests that moderate expansion in the economy continues in the face of a large decline in capital spending in the mining sector.”

“ While GDP growth has been somewhat below longer-term averages for some time, business surveys suggest a gradual improvement in conditions in non-mining sectors over the past year.”

“This has been accompanied by stronger growth in employment and a steady rate of unemployment.”

“Inflation is low and should remain so, with the economy likely to have a degree of spare capacity for some time yet.”

“Inflation is forecast to be consistent with the target over the next one to two years.”

“n such circumstances, monetary policy needs to be accommodative.”
“ Low interest rates are acting to support borrowing and spending. While the recent changes to some lending rates for housing will reduce this support slightly, overall conditions are still quite accommodative.”
“ Credit growth has increased a little over recent months, with credit provided by intermediaries to businesses picking up.”

“Growth in lending to investors in the housing market has eased.”
“Supervisory measures are helping to contain risks that may arise from the housing market. “
Mr Stevens said:“The pace of growth in dwelling prices has moderated in Melbourne and Sydney over recent months and has remained mostly subdued in other cities.”
“ In other asset markets, prices for commercial property have been supported by lower long-term interest rates, while equity prices have moved in parallel with developments in global markets.”

“The Australian dollar is adjusting to the significant declines in key commodity prices.”
“At today’s meeting the Board again judged that the prospects for an improvement in economic conditions had firmed a little over recent months and that leaving the cash rate unchanged was appropriate.”
“Members also observed that the outlook for inflation may afford scope for further easing of policy, should that be appropriate to lend support to demand.”
“The Board will continue to assess the outlook, and hence whether the current stance of policy will most effectively foster sustainable growth and inflation consistent with the target,” Mr Stevens said.
For Immediate Release
Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision
At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.0 per cent.
The global economy is expanding at a moderate pace, with some softening in conditions in the Asian region, continuing US growth and a recovery in Europe. Key commodity prices are much lower than a year ago, reflecting increased supply, including from Australia, as well as weaker demand. Australia’s terms of trade are falling.
The Federal Reserve is expected to start increasing its policy rate over the period ahead, but some other major central banks are continuing to ease monetary policy. Volatility in financial markets has abated somewhat for the moment. While credit costs for some emerging market countries remain higher than a year ago, global financial conditions overall remain very accommodative.
In Australia, the available information suggests that moderate expansion in the economy continues in the face of a large decline in capital spending in the mining sector. While GDP growth has been somewhat below longer-term averages for some time, business surveys suggest a gradual improvement in conditions in non-mining sectors over the past year. This has been accompanied by stronger growth in employment and a steady rate of unemployment.
Inflation is low and should remain so, with the economy likely to have a degree of spare capacity for some time yet. Inflation is forecast to be consistent with the target over the next one to two years.
In such circumstances, monetary policy needs to be accommodative. Low interest rates are acting to support borrowing and spending. While the recent changes to some lending rates for housing will reduce this support slightly, overall conditions are still quite accommodative. Credit growth has increased a little over recent months, with credit provided by intermediaries to businesses picking up. Growth in lending to investors in the housing market has eased. Supervisory measures are helping to contain risks that may arise from the housing market.
The pace of growth in dwelling prices has moderated in Melbourne and Sydney over recent months and has remained mostly subdued in other cities. In other asset markets, prices for commercial property have been supported by lower long-term interest rates, while equity prices have moved in parallel with developments in global markets. The Australian dollar is adjusting to the significant declines in key commodity prices.
At today’s meeting the Board again judged that the prospects for an improvement in economic conditions had firmed a little over recent months and that leaving the cash rate unchanged was appropriate. Members also observed that the outlook for inflation may afford scope for further easing of policy, should that be appropriate to lend support to demand. The Board will continue to assess the outlook, and hence whether the current stance of policy will most effectively foster sustainable growth and inflation consistent with the target.

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Monday 30th November 2015 - 5:38 pm
Comments Off on Pollster says support for Turnbull government still strong

Pollster says support for Turnbull government still strong

by Alan Thornhill

The Turnbull government has maintained its lead over Labor in the latest Morgan poll.

 

It would easily win an election held today.

 

The poll results, published today , give the government 56 per cent support, on a two party preferred basis, to Labor’s 44 per cent.

 

They also show confidence in the government up 2.5 points to 122, its highest level since March 2011.

 

Pollster Gary Morgan said the study showed the Turnbull Government’s honeymoon continuing  as Australia heads towards Christmas.

 

This week Prime Minister Turnbull has travelled to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta – his first meeting with the Queen since becoming Prime Minister – and on to the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.

 

“However, despite the issues of Global Warming and terrorism dominating the news headlines lately, Turnbull’s most important task as Prime Minister is to ensure a growing Australian economy which provides gainful employment to as many Australians as possible.”

 

“Ultimately it is job creation and sustainable economic growth in Australia which will decide the success or otherwise of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership,” Mr Morgan said.
“To be a successful Prime Minister Turnbull needs to take advantage of the boost to confidence his ascension to the top job has created …. and not allow Labor and the Greens to obstruct the implementation of overdue reforms to the Australian economy.

 

“If they continue to hold-up needed reforms, Turnbull must bypass this ‘blackmail’ and let Australian electors decide by calling an election early in 2016.” Mr Morgan added.

Friday 27th November 2015 - 7:30 am
Comments Off on Malcolm;s big statement

Malcolm;s big statement

by Alan Thornhill

Some might call it a mini-budget.

 

All the Prime Minister said, in an interview with Leigh Sales on the ABC last night, though, is that his government would release “an innovation statement” within the next two weeks.

 

Well, perhaps he did add a little dressing, to make the prospect enticing.

 

How?

By promising, for example, that he would would “set out a very large number of substantial measures. to drive the innovation that would ensure that Australians, their children and grandchildren, will have great jobs.”

 

“…better jobs in the future that will drive our economy,” he added.

 

Then he laid it on the line.
“I don’t think anybody has any doubt that if we are to remain the high wage, generous social welfare net country, first world country that we want to be then we need to be more innovative, more competitive, more productive and the innovation statement will be a good example of the measures the government is undertaking to achieve that.”

 

Yet Mr Turnbull, himself, has some catching up to do in this regard.
He saddled Australia with the pursuit of an internet system which, even if achieved, would offer speeds be well below those of many other first world countries, such as France.
Of course, with its vast expanses to connect, Australia does have difficult – and expensive – problems to overcome, in building anything that could – even remotely – be called a fast internet system.

 

Yet the picture emerging from Mr Turnbull’s attempt to do so – on the cheap – has not been impressive, so far.

 

Long waits for connection.

Cost over-runs.

 

There can be no doubt about one thing.

 

This “innovation statement, when it appears, will be drawn up to underwrite Mr Turnbull’s bid for re-election next year.

 

Politically, his situation has its difficulties, despite what some are calling his initial “honeymoon” period.

 

He is still the man who became Prime Minister, without a popular mandate.

 

And he is not short of opponents who stand ready to remind him of that fact, if he starts making mistakes, as most Prime Ministers do, as they start to settle into office.

Mr Turnbull also declared during his interview last night that he is “comfortable” in his new job.

 

But make no mistake.

 

His handling of the Brough affair is already being watched very closely.

Thursday 12th November 2015 - 1:53 pm
Comments Off on Life expectancy hits a new high

Life expectancy hits a new high

by Alan Thornhill

Life expectancy in Australia hit a record high last year, according to the the Bureau of Statistics.

 

The Bureau said said  male life expectancy at birth rose to 80.3 years in 2014 from 80.1 in 2013 and female life expectancy  increased to 84.4 years from 84.3.

 
The Bureau’s Beidar Cho  said: “There are only six other countries worldwide where both men and women have a life expectancy over 80 years.”

 

” These countries are Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, Israel and Sweden.”

 
“Australia has a higher life expectancy, at both the male and female level, than many similar countries to ours, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America,” she added.

 

But there are big differences between different parts of the nation.

 

Ms Cho said:” “In 2014, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest life expectancy for both males and females while the Northern Territory had the lowest.”
 

She said too that  the number of registered deaths rose 4.0 per cent to 153,580 in 2014 from 147,678 in 2013.

 

Ms Cho said this reflects both Australia’s ageing and its growing and ageing population.

Thursday 5th November 2015 - 10:48 am
Comments Off on A scientific look at our prospects

A scientific look at our prospects

by Alan Thornhill

Some of Australia’s best scientists say the nation’s economic prospects are bright.

 

But they also caution that our prosperity in future will depend on the choices we make now.

 

This advice is offered in the Australian National Outlook report which the CSIRO published today.

 

Standing back from their test tubes for a moment, these scientists warned bluntly that Australia’s future will be shaped by innovation and technology uptake and the choices we make as a society will be paramount.

 
They are proud of their report, describing it as “, is the most comprehensive quantitative analysis yet of the interactions between economic growth, water-energy-food use, environmental outcomes and living standards in Australia.”

 

CSIRO Executive Director Dr Alex Wonhas said the report focuses on the ‘physical economy’ that contributes to about 75 per cent of natural resource use and produces about 25 per cent of Australia’s GDP.

 

“The National Outlook is a first attempt to understand and analyse the connections in Australia’s physical environment many decades into the future,” Dr Wonhas said.

 

“It has a particular focus on understanding two aspects: The ‘water- energy-food nexus’ and the prospects for Australia’s materials- and energy-intensive industries.”

 

National Outlook finds a number of key insights and potential opportunities across the Australian economy.? ?“For example, we find strong growth prospects for Australia’s agri-food production, which are forecast to increase at least 50 per cent by 2050, provided long term productivity improvements can be maintained in line with historical rates,” Dr Wonhas said.

 

So are we to do?

 

Dr Wonhas says:”“There’s a ….possibility of a win-win for farmers with potential growth in agri-food exports and new income sources for rural landholders through carbon farming on less productive land.”

 

What about water?

 

The report acknowledges that demand for water will grow with population.

 

But it adds:“Despite projections of a doubling of our water use, Australia could meet this growth as well as enhance urban water security and avoid increased environmental pressures through increased water recycling, desalination and integrated catchment management.”

 

It says too, that energy and other resources could remain a pillar of the Australian economy well into the future.

 

And it says our energy intensive industries could be well positioned to continue to grow, even in scenarios where the world is taking global action to significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.

 

“The key to this success will be innovation and application of smart technologies,” Dr Wonhas said.

 

“We hope the National Outlook will help Australia chart its future in an increasingly complex and interconnected world,” he added

 

The National Outlook explores over 20 possible futures for Australia out to 2050 against the backdrop of the past 40 years.??The work was undertaken by a team of 40 CSIRO experts and university collaborators, and draws extensively on observed data and analysis.

 

It utilises a world-class suite of nine linked models, includes input from more than 80 experts and stakeholders from over ten organisations and has undergone rigorous international peer review.

 

National Outlook is underpinned by more than 10 journal papers including a Nature paper published today.  The report is available at www.CSIRO.au/national outlook

Monday 19th October 2015 - 7:19 pm
Comments Off on It’s just a honeymoon:Labor

It’s just a honeymoon:Labor

by Alan Thornhill

A senior Labor MP, Anthony Albanese, says he expected the “honeymoon” that the new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is enjoying in the polls.

 

The latest – a Morgan poll – published today confirmed that the Coalition is well ahead of Labor, with 56-44 per cent lead on a two party preferred split.

 

This trend has also been evident in other recent public opinion polls.

 

It would give the government an easy victory in an early election, if one were held now.

 

That is a major reversal.

 

Labor had been consistently ahead in the polls, until Mr Turnbull successfully challenged Mr Abbott for Liberal leadership last month, defeating him 54-44 in the subsequent party room ballot.

 

But Mr Albanese said Australians are just pleased that the previous unpopular Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has gone.

 
With a Federal election due next year – or early in 2017 – the Coalition’s resurgence in the polls   has left some Labor people wondering if the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, really is the right person for the job.

 

However Mr Albanese, who stood against Mr Shorten in the most recent ballot for Labor leadership, said he is certain that there will not be a fresh challenge to Mr Shorten.

 

Speaking on ABC radio, Mr Albanese said people would soon realise that although there had been a change of leadership, the government is still working on its old  inadequate policies.

 

“I think what people are interested in is policy solutions for Australia,” Mr Albanese said.

Tuesday 13th October 2015 - 11:37 am
Comments Off on Our “fundamentals strong” Reserve Bank chief

Our “fundamentals strong” Reserve Bank chief

by Alan Thornhill

A Reserve Bank chief says “the fundamentals” of the Australian economy “are strong” and provide grounds for “optimism” about the future.

 

Philip Lowe, the Bank’s Deputy Governor, made the observation in a speech he delivered to the CFA Institute Australia Investment Conference in Sydney today.

 

Mr Lowe said the central message of his speech was: “that these fundamentals are strong.”

 

“…and that they provide us with the basis to be optimistic about the future.”

 

“ At the same time, none of us has a crystal ball, so we can’t be sure exactly what that future holds,” Mr Lowe added.

 

“What we can be sure of is that we will be best placed to take advantage of our strong fundamentals if our economy is flexible and if it is able to adapt to the changing world in which we find ourselves,” Mr Lowe added.

 

“Hence the title of my remarks this morning: Fundamentals and Flexibility.”

 

Mr Lowe said advancing technology had greatly affected the way Australians work.
“The advances in technology are reshaping, in unexpected ways, the jobs that we do,“ he said.

 

“If we were to go back to 1995, or perhaps even to just 2005, I suspect that there are very few of us who could have imagined many of the new occupations that have emerged.”

 

“There are big data architects, cloud computing experts, social media strategists, mobile app developers, information security technicians, green retrofit architects, genetic counsellors and the list goes on.”

 

“Each of these new occupations is possible only because of advances in technology.”

 

“More broadly, the huge growth in employment in the services sector has taken many by surprise,” Mr Lowe said.

 

“I suspect that if in the early 1990s we had known that there would be a net loss of over 100 000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in Australia over the next 25 years, there would have been a sense of despair about the future.”

 

“This despair would probably have been compounded if we had also known there would be no growth in jobs in both the utilities and wholesale trade sectors over the next quarter of a century.”

 

“Yet, over this period, we have enjoyed a strong rise in our living standards, the unemployment rate has come down substantially and we have generated around 4 million new jobs across the economy, mostly in the services sector.”

Monday 28th September 2015 - 7:00 am
Comments Off on Health reviews:just cost shifting operations?

Health reviews:just cost shifting operations?

by Alan Thornhill

Labor is warning that the Federal government is planning to shift big health costs onto families that can ill-afford them.

The warning comes from the Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King.

It arises from the government’s announcement of reviews of Medicare and its costs.

By their nature, medical costs are hard to manage.

They threaten family and national budgets, alike.

That’s, essentially, because illness strikes at random.

And it’s costs are high.

Australia copes with all this through a universal health insurance scheme called Medicare.

The US is about to try something similar, nicknamed Obmacare, after its chief advocate, Barack Obama, whose time, as US President, is rapidly approaching its close.

The Australian example has, undoubtedly, influenced US thinking on health insurance.

So what is happening in Washington, now, can be seen – reasonably – as a compliment both to Medicare and similar systems, in other countries.

But costs – and outcomes – still have to be watched.

The government says that is why it ordered those reviews.

But the people who run important  operations, like Medicare. need to be watched, too.

So let’s take things one step further than either the government, or the opposition, have done so far.

And do that, too.

We should start at the top, with a look at the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley,  wbo makes no secret of her concerns about costs.

She wants the reviews of Medicare, that the Federal government ordered to produce “….a healthier Medicare that is patient-focused in direct consultation with clinicians and consumers.”

At the best possible price.

In a recent statement, she warned that the use and costs of Medicare had both continued to “skyrocket.”

She offered a tough prescription.

Ms Ley said the Medicare Benefit Schedule now lists some 5,700 items for subsidisation.

That is about 1,000 more than it did ten years ago.

She says it has become clear that the “cupboard needed a deep clean.”

This worries Labor.

It declares that this kind of talk does not square with the Coalition’s preelection promise that there would be no cuts to health, if it won office.

The Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, says the government has already broken that promise, by cutting $60 million from health funding.

She warns now that the  reviews are a clear sign that it wants to cut more.

Indeed. Ms King  the reviews “….could end public funding for thousands of procedures and transfer billions of dollars of costs on to sick Australians and their families.

“Coming less than a fortnight after his leadership coup, Malcolm Turnbull’s first move in health as Prime Minister should ring alarm bells for patients and across the entire medical profession,” she says.

“In government, Labor worked with the medical profession to improve the quality and safety of Medicare, and where savings were realised, they were reinvested back into the health system,” Ms King said.

Ms Ley said the current reviews of the MBS Taskforce and Primary Health Care Advisory Group are due to report to the Government by the end of 2015.

These reports will be worth watching.

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