Tag Archives: ken henry

China Biggest Worry For Markets

17 Mar

Fromt the Wall Street Journal:

Nervousness is growing in the financial markets about China, which might seem odd when there are so many other places to worry about.

There’s still Greece, for example, which is likely to be the focus of this week’s meetings of European finance ministers. There’s Germany, and its trade surplus. And there’s the U.S., the U.K. and all the other places with triple-A-rated debt that may not be rated triple-A for much longer.

So why the focus on China, where shares closed Monday at their lowest in five weeks, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite ending below 3000 at its weakest since Feb. 9? Well, as one bank put it on Monday: “Are we facing a ‘growth miracle’ or will China be the next bubble to burst?

Even the markets are more cautious on China than Australia’s financial powers, the RBA and the Treasury department. They still believe we are headed for 40 years of “unprecedented prosperity” on the back of a new China-fueled mining boom.

Batten The Hatches

16 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The ominous word ”boom” appeared last week, in large type, on the front page of the local newspaper. Given the nature of this paper, the word could only refer to one thing: property. While the signals from the property market are mixed, it appears we are springing back to normalcy without absorbing the reality: the global financial crisis is far from over. All the elements are in place for a second crash.

The world has become an economically unstable place, with enormous unresolved issues. Australia’s economy is fundamentally sound, but the global economy is fundamentally unsound. Even a good boat can be swamped by a bad sea and Australia, as a middling economy, will be buffeted by forces beyond its control unfolding in the United States, the European Community and Asia.

The Bank for International Settlements, the central bank for central banks, is warning of ”unstable dynamics”. Ominous language. The International Monetary Fund estimates the world’s 20 largest economies, the G20, will have a combined debt equal to 118 per cent of their combined gross domestic product by 2014, meaning debt will have exploded by 50 per cent in just seven years. To fund what? In Australia, debt is being used for expansion of the mining sector, which is good, but also for the ill-disciplined spending of the Rudd government and the chronically overpriced housing sector. As a result, Australia’s economy is more vulnerable to economic stress from abroad…

While the obvious and prudent response of government in a financial crisis is to provide social and economic shock absorbers by increased spending and borrowing, it is also important not to overreact. If you believe the global financial crisis is still unfolding, the key is not to overshoot, but to conserve resources and policy options.

The Rudd government, as it has proved in every area of major policy, overspent. It threw money around with undisciplined panic when faced with the global economic crisis.

A must read article.

Perhaps Mr Sheehan might like to point all this out to the overpaid, short-sighted, know-it-all idiots in the Treasury department, and at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

They all failed to see and forewarn of the GFC.  So, thanks to their incompetence, millions of Australian citizens lost literally billions in retirement savings and investments during late 2007 through to early 2009.

Now they are saying that the GFC is “over”, and that we are set for a multi-decade China-fueled mining boom that will provide a “period of unprecedented prosperity”.

Sack Ken Henry. Sack Glenn Stevens.

And abolish the RBA.

China Warns of Double-Dip Recession

15 Mar

From The Australian today:

China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, has warned that the world risks sliding back into recession and says his country faces a difficult year trying to maintain economic growth and spur development.

“The unemployment rate of the world’s main economy is still high, some countries’ debt crises are still deepening, and the world’s commodity prices and exchange rates are not stable, which are most likely to become the cause of any setback in the economic recovery,” Mr Wen said yesterday in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

China’s and Australia’s economies have become more intertwined in recent years: the country is now our largest trading partner with two-way trade surging to $83 billion in the year ending last June 30, and in December it passed Japan as our largest export market.

Any trouble in China’s economy would quickly resonate in Australia.

Perhaps Treasury Secretary Ken Henry might care to revise his recent declaration that the GFC is ‘over’?

Perhaps Henry, along with RBA Governor Glenn Stevens, and all their many mindless cheerleaders in the media, might pause to reconsider their claims that ‘the risk of serious contraction‘ has passed, and that Australia is now set to enjoy a multi-decade China-fueled mining boom?  One that will fix the massive Rudd hole in the Budget, and provide a “period of unprecedented prosperity” for Australia?

Please… inform yourself.  Understand what is really going on in the financial world. Unlike the lazy, short-sighted economic illiterates who are running this country.

Please browse through the posts on this blog, and follow the links that catch your eye.

You will find references and links to literally dozens of articles from around the world.  You will see that international economists, investors, financiers, world leaders, and many others, have been increasingly warning of the many threats to the global economy. And thus, to Australia’s economy too.

Our Australian economic “authorities” are living in La la land.

Only Barnaby is on the ball.

Rudd Labor, Ken Henry, RBA and friends

The Net Debt Picture

12 Mar

Here’s a picture that speaks volumes.

From the government’s 2009-10 Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook, Appendix D, Table D4, I’ve made the following chart tracking official ‘net debt’ since 1982 (click on chart to enlarge) –

Australian Government - Net Debt

I’ve marked the first full budget year for each successive government, from Labor’s Bob Hawke through to Labor’s Kevin Rudd.

See that steep fall in government net debt on the chart?  The one that took the nation from $96.2bn in net debt, down down down to negative $44.82bn in net debt?

Yes. That was a Coalition government.

See the rocket-like launch back UP to unprecedented levels of net debt?  Yes, that’s the Rudd Government’s panicked, totally unnecessary spending binge for you. The one they’ve been lying about.

With much more debt still to come.

After all, they borrowed another $1.6bn just this week. See the AOFM website, and click on the links under ‘Recent Tender Results”.

And next week, they’re planning to borrow another $2.1bn.

The massive, multi-billion dollar cockups in every single “stimulus” spending program, will only add to their… OUR… huge and unpayable debts.

Rain For Henry, Stevens’ Parade

5 Mar

From Business Spectator:

Today’s commentary is all about lessons learned and not learned in the GFC.

ABARE has rained on the commodity bulls’ parade with forecasts of falling commodity prices in the medium term, and a falling dollar from next year. This is no surprise to this column, which has argued consistently that the prices of the last cycle will not be repeated because that cycle’s global building boom – from Shanghai to Dubai – was a once-in-a-lifetime event, characterised in the worst cases by massive empty buildings. Mine supply has also now caught up.

The commentary then goes on to critique Michael Stutchbury’s recent article regarding the Australian housing bubble:

Heavens to Betsy. This column will simply observe that house prices reached unprecedented multiples of income in the last cycle and are now threatening to go higher still. And even in Stutchbury’s own terms the boom is based upon easy money – this time fiscal – the First Home Buyers’ Grant (FHBG). We might also note that it was coupled with the lowest cost of mortgages in fifty years. Let’s call a spade a spade. The FHBG was, in the long run, a calamitous policy. It has re-inflated the great Australian housing bubble, underpinned it with moral hazard and badly compromised monetary options… A historic opportunity to de-risk the Australian economy was missed.

If we learned anything form the GFC it is not to trust financial advice, and John Durie of The Australian analyses where new regulation to protect small investors is headed. “Myriad studies have revealed that 50 per cent of Australian adults don’t understand what 50 per cent means.

Official: China Bubble ‘Undisputable’

4 Mar

From China Daily:

China’s real estate industry is in an “undisputable” bubble with its skyrocketing property price fermenting an imminent structural inflation that might hijack the country’s booming economy into violent fluctuations, a high-ranking official said on Wednesday’s Beijing News.

“The over-speedy price hike is evident of an undisputable bubble in the property market, which is a major propeller behind the current inflation,” said Yin Zhongqin, deputy chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Famous international financier George Soros has said that he is “very cautious” on China.

Last week, former IMF chief economist Professor Ken Rogoff predicted that the China bubble will bust “within ten years”, sparking a regional recession and hammering commodity exporters.

Despite measures being taken by the Chinese central authorities, leading authorities on Asian economics say that the China real estate bubble cannot be cooled, as it is being driven by trillions of dollars borrowed for speculative, leveraged investments by local municipal governments.

In Australia, our economic authorities are again asleep at the wheel, having confidently predicted a “Golden Age” of “unprecedented prosperity” from a multi-decade mining boom.

Barnaby is right.

Labor: Hide The Increase

3 Mar

Australia’s much-heralded “low” debt-to-GDP ratio statistic appears to be a fraud. Deliberately “adjusted” by the Rudd Government, in order to make their massive debt-funded spending binge appear less than it is.

In the 2009-10 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), the government refers to a change in the methodology used to calculate GDP  for the previous 2008-09 year, and for the historical data series.  This change results in a “substantial increase” in the published level of GDP.

The flow-on result from this change is obvious. The government’s spending, as a percentage of that artificially increased GDP figure, will appear lower than if the change had not been made.

And because all of its spending is being done using borrowed money, the debt-to-GDP figure will also appear lower too. Perfect cover for a government that needs to defend itself from Opposition attacks, and smooth over public fears, about rising government debt.

But there’s more.

In the 2009-10 MYEFO, the Rudd Government changed the methodology used to “adjust” government spending for inflation. The result is that the government’s “real” spending growth % figure is artificially reduced… by a whopping 30.1% for 2009-10.

How can we know this?

In the fine print – isn’t it always? – on the Rudd Government’s Budget 2009-10 MYEFO website, we read:

Continue reading ‘Labor: Hide The Increase’

Henry: GFC Is ‘Over’

28 Feb

Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Ken Henry declared that the Global Financial Crisis is “over”:

“What people have called the global financial crisis, that has passed, I think it’s safe to say,” Dr Henry said. “But that isn’t to say that there will not be further adverse shocks for financial markets down the track and some of those shocks … could be of some significance for individual countries, but I don’t imagine (they would be) shocks of the sort that would be globally significant.”

Remember that claim.

Ken Henry did not see the GFC coming in the first place. He later claimed that “only extraordinarily good forecasters” would have predicted the GFC.

Well, that would be lots of extra-ordinary folk like me then, Ken. Even I could see it coming, from late 2005. And despite the ridicule (familiar story?) of “trained” “expert” financial advisers, I chose to pull all my superannuation out of the sharemarket into cash in May 2007, completely avoiding the global crash that has wiped out the investments and retirement savings of countless millions –

Historical performance chart assumptions: Performance is calculated on an initial investment of $10,000, using entry to exit prices, with distributions reinvested. A 4% contribution fee has also been applied. This information is general information only

And what about those international economists who publicly warned of a looming GFC, Ken?  Men such as professors Ken Rogoff and Nouriel Roubini, and our very own “Dr Doom”, Professor Steve Keen?

You’d think Henry might have learned a few lessons about wide-ranging research… and caution… given his utter failure to foresee what many others did.  So has he learned anything?

Clearly not.

Henry presently remains ignorant of, oblivious to, or (worse) rejects the numerous dire warnings coming daily from all around the world. Not just from Barnaby Joyce, but from many leading international economists – several of whom did predict the GFC – who are now genuinely concerned with multiple threats to the global economy. Everything from the European debt crisis, to the China property bubble.

Scarily, it has become increasingly obvious that Ken Henry is the man who really holds the reins of Australia’s economy, since PM Rudd, Treasurer Swan, and Finance Minister Tanner, are all totally unqualified economic imbeciles. Never forget, all of them were frantically talking up “the inflation genie” danger in 2008, even as the GFC tsunami was breaking over the world economy.

If (when) it all goes pear-shaped… again… Ken Henry must be sacked.

Stutchbury Sees The Angel Too

28 Feb

Brandishing the headline “Chinese Can Fund Our Boom”, The Australian economics editor Michael Stutchbury sees that Chinese cyclical angel descending from heaven too… and joins in the smearing of Barnaby Joyce:

The method and madness of Barnaby Joyce won’t lie down because it strikes at the heart of Australia’s economic risks and opportunities amid the mother of all mining booms…

The opposition finance spokesman has tweaked his reckless claim that Australia could default on its sovereign debt…

His incoherence invites ridicule. “He does not have a clue what he is talking about,” Wayne Swan responded, mocking Joyce’s reference to “net debt gross, public and private”. The Nationals senator was saying “ridiculous, stupid and damaging” things about Australia’s debt position. Swan’s Treasury head Ken Henry has accused Joyce to his face of “a gross oversimplification of economic understanding”.

Doesn’t have a clue, ‘eh Wayne?  Remind us again how your Bachelor of Arts (thence career political hack) compares with Barnaby’s qualifications?

As for Ken Henry’s arrogant comments, perhaps Mr Stutchbury might care to do a little research. He might learn just how many international economists directly refute Henry’s confident visions of a multi-decade China Miracle.

Mr Stutchbury goes on to imply that Barnaby poses a threat to that Chinese angel descending, thanks to his warnings about Australia’s levels of debt:

So Joyce now begins with private debt, particularly Australia’s gross foreign debt of $1.2 trillion, or about 100 per cent of gross domestic product.

At $638bn or 47 per cent of GDP, Australia’s net foreign debt is one of the highest in the developed world and much higher than in 1986 when Paul Keating warned that Australia could become a banana republic.

You’d think that fact might concern Mr Stutchbury. Not at all. Immediately comes the justification:

Continue reading ‘Stutchbury Sees The Angel Too’

Can We Even Pay The Interest?

27 Feb

Estimated (E), Projected (P)

It seems that every man and his dog… except Barnaby Joyce… happily takes for granted the popular claim that Australia’s sovereign debt levels are nothing to worry about.  But have you ever stopped to think about whether we really can pay back the debt?

I made the chart above using the data from the Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) 2009-10 Budget statements. It shows Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s projected Interest on debt for this financial year, and the following three years. Those are interest-only repayments that Kevin Rudd incurred, and now we-the-taxpayers have to pay.

Doesn’t look too bad, you say?  An Interest bill starting at $8.26 Billion for 2009-10, rising to $15.28 Billion for 2012-13? Surely your $900 “bonus” cheque, and your dodgy roof insulation from the Fairy Ruddfather, make paying this Interest bill worthwhile?

To put it into perspective, I’ve put together another chart (below).  It shows the Australian Government headline Surplus / Deficits going back to 1996, and adds in the projected Interest on debt (in blue) from the above chart. Simply click on the chart to enlarge –

As you can see, Ken Henry’s projected Interest on debt alone is greater than many of the 12 years of Howard Government surpluses. And they came during an unprecedented mining boom.

One other thing. Can anyone really believe Ken Henry’s projections?  This is a man who could not see the GFC coming.  And even now, he is confidently predicting a “Golden Age” of “unprecedented prosperity” for Australia, one that could “stretch to 2050”. All thanks to his belief in a 4o year continuous boom in China.  He is clearly ignorant of the fact that more and more leading international economists… including some who did predict the GFC… are now predicting that China is a bubble that will bust within ten years.

Paying back the projected Interest-only will obviously be a big challenge. So try to imagine how we are ever going to pay back the principal too.

Barnaby Joyce has recently stated that it would take eight (8) consecutive years of $19 Billion surpluses to bring the budget back to earth.  As you can see from the chart above, the Howard Government achieved a budget surplus that big only 3 times… in 12 years.

It is easy to see why Barnaby is so concerned about our ever-rising debt under Rudd Labor.

Because quite simply, we can not pay it back.

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