Tag Archives: michael stutchbury

Swan Hides Budget Risk

17 May

Well done Michael Stutchbury.

But you’re not forgiven until you retract the smear. And join the chorus now recognising that Barnaby was right about the risk of US debt default.

From The Australian:

The confused reaction to Wayne Swan’s budget stems from its refusal to properly spell out the risks of relying on Australia’s China-fuelled terms of trade remaining close to their 60-year or even 140-year highs.

This commodity price bonanza has delivered eight years of tax cuts, a big expansion in middle-class welfare, billions of dollars of wasteful spending – and this year’s $50 billion budget deficit.

Yet all our previous commodity export price spikes have swiftly reversed, typically ending in double-digit inflation and recession.

A must read.

Is Mr Stutchbury Waking Up?

16 Mar

On February 28th I firmly criticised The Australian’s economics editor Michael Stutchbury’s column, “Chinese Can Fund Our Boom” (see my article here).

Well, it seems Mr Stutchbury may be (reluctantly) waking up to reality, if his column today is anything to go by. Though he cannot yet bring himself to let go of the fantasy entirely:

China Won’t Boom Forever

The big risk now is that, having escaped the global crisis, the Lucky Country thinks it’s bulletproof and the rebound in our iron ore and coal export prices means there is no penalty for bad policy.

The airbag of a US50c-US60c dollar cushioned the economy from the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2000 Wall Street tech-wreck. Our new China fortune pulled us out of last year’s global recession.

As a result, Australia is about to enter its 19th straight year of economic expansion, possibly the longest unbroken growth in our history. We appear to be heading into a bountiful decade or two of high commodity export prices driven by the rise of China and India.

But now, no doubt in reaction to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s warning yesterday of a global double-dip recession, Stutchbury hedges just a little on his previous blind confidence:

But this new growth phase is bound to be volatile. And there is a smaller probability but higher impact risk that the mega China boom – like the 1980s Japanese bubble, the 90s Asian boom, the technology boom or the US housing bubble – could burst. We can’t count on being able to avoid a fair dinkum recession during the next decade.

Indeed. The fact is, many authorities around the world are predicting the China bubble may burst by 2012. Including some, like former chief economist for the IMF Ken Rogoff, who did predict the GFC in the first place.

I wonder how long it will take for Mr Stutchbury – and many others in the Australian mainstream economic media – to stop publishing reactions to the latest proclamation by an “authority”, and start researching widely in order to  think for themselves?

Perhaps he might take a lead from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul Sheehan, and his excellent and insightful article yesterday.

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.

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’

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