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Forks in the road

I struggle with long-form essays drafted by economics writers. Like many, I am easily fazed by complex yet important observations crafted by a coterie of well-respected econometricians.

But of all the millions of words written for and against the undetailed or overtly specific party political policies, the truest summation of Australia’s current predicament fell to those who report on the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.

On Monday, May 20 the Australian Stock Market recorded a healthy bounce, but within cooee of this breathless fan prose published in The Australian Financial Review, and spurred on by its managing editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury, Prime Minister Scott Morrison AKA the Messiah from The Shire contradicted Simon Benson’s story, saying  tax cuts would be pushed back by 12 months.

Gee that didn’t take long!

The reality of the current state of the Australian economy, repeated ad nauseam throughout the election campaign by respected econometricians of all stripes, is dire. Classicists, demand-siders, macro and micro boffins, monetarists and supply-side champions, mostly agree: the nation is already in recession.

Indeed the good folk of far North Queensland will tell you their daily lives unfold in the midst of a localised depression, exacerbated by a terrible summer flood. Yet these same Australian citizens chose to believe in a non-existent coal rush of jobs set to unfold in an uneconomic financial mess called the Carmichael Mine located somewhere in Queensland’s vast Galilee Basin.

The bleak appearance of shuttered shop fronts in Townsville and Gladstone is now regretfully, a reality in inner-city enclaves in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and other towns and cities. But this is as nothing to a coterie of citizens who made a small fortune on the ALP’s franking credits fiasco as reported by Michael Pascoe in today’s The New Daily.

But to quote the old Sydney race caller Ken Howard, you can bet London to a Brick that not one of those angry, disaffected citizens in the deep north or the far, far west, read Pascoe’s report. Chances are they chose the prognostications of Terry McCrann, who a few days back penned an article with the headline, Why Pauline and Clive are our saviours, published in The Herald-Sun and syndicated across News Corp mastheads.

Like Michael Pascoe, Terry McCrann is also an economics writer.

But I think it fair to say describing Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer as our saviours, pushes the messianic metaphor just a little too hard. But hey; this is the reality of the era of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

To put economic reporting in perspective, it is worth browsing a website which processes trillions of financial transactions a year.

The enormity of the world economy is summarised by the brief of a company which describes itself as, ‘the central nervous system of global finance’.

Each day Bloomberg deploys Big Science to lubricate this central nervous system. Every minute it feeds the most advanced data on the planet to its reporters who then analyse everything from climate glitches such as hurricanes to the likelihood of nuclear war in the Middle East.

And in Australia Michael Pascoe, Ross Gittins, Elysse Morgan, Alan Kohler and many more fine business and finance journalists, distil local sources and Bloomberg and Reuters stories as well as those published in other reputable economic conduits, to keep Australia appraised of real, as opposed to fake news.

And yet when it comes to decoding the science of where our finances are actually heading, last Saturday some Australians chose to elect a scientific sceptic par excellence to the incoming Senate.

I leave you with this lucid explanation of Carbon Dioxide in Perspective by the Galileo Movement and urge you never doubt the stupidity of an electorate which never gets it wrong!

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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  1. Terence

    Henry Johnson

    Let’s not let very accurate satellite atmospheric temperature measurements taken over the last 40 years get in the way of a good global warming disaster scenario.

    The temperature is actually warming in a linear fashion at around 0.1 degrees C each 10 years.

    So projecting this rate, the temperature in 2100 will only be 1 degree warmer than now.

    Google “UAH Satellite Temperature of The Global Lower Atmosphere Version 6”

  2. mark delmege

    The only person I met pre election that spoke of a coalition win was the bank bloke. I’m not sure if he was pro liberal or not it doesn’t matter anyway. I had been trying to invest some money for my old demented mom now in a care home. The rates and lengths for term deposits were all down and it was even hard to get interest (no I don’t mean bank interest) from one particular institution. They are factoring in a rate cut and that means the economy is bust. So much for the so called Liberal economic management.
    Just as an aside has anyone done an analysis of the ownership of the Queensland regional press? My guess is Murdoch. People think they know how the world works by listening to and reading the media.
    One one level you cant blame people for the choices they make when all they are told leads them to a certain conclusion. Over here in the West we are a one paper town (plus major TV station). I can’t imagine any other place on earth where one oligarch has so much influence. That one paper 7 days a week sets the agenda on what is acceptable or not.

  3. Keitha Granville

    I am confident that Adani will be bringing the 1000 or so workers it actually needs for its mine over from India on 457s cos they will work for nothing.
    An when they can’t sell the coal, because the rest of the world has worked out that renewables are cheaper, they will just leave the mess behind for us to clean up. Except for the Reef which will have died.
    Heavens, what would scientists know, you can trust Pauline and Clive cos they wouldn’t lie.

  4. Judith

    Another of your writers has shared information from his son who has been canvassed regarding art installations on the dead reef as a tourist attraction… It seems the Great Barrier Reef is no longer great.

  5. totaram

    Terence: I’ll leave you with:

    Search the site for all you like. You will find all your “skepticism” suitably dealt with. We are not going to waste our time any further.

  6. totaram

    Henry Johnston:
    I will simply repeat my basic hypothesis about the problem of our civilisation. Our advances in science and technology have been driven by the relentless application of rigorous logic and analysis including mathematics, by people who understand those things. These technologies have delivered immense power to do good or evil. The control of these technologies depends on the functioning of “democracy”, in which all of us are supposed to decide on what we should do. But most of us are incapable of having the faintest idea of what the result of any policy will be, so we are easily bamboozled (think “fair dinkum power.”) The people doing the bamboozling are the rich and powerful who have precisely the means by which to manipulate us. These people are interested only in increasing their own wealth and power, no matter what the consequences might be in the future. Ergo our civilisation is doomed, a victim of its own success. I have had a decent run. My children are not sure how well they will survive in the coming years (and not because they are “poor”), and as you can imagine, I have no grandchildren. For those not deluded (like Terence) the writing is on the wall.

  7. Terence


    Climate Warmist Course 101:

    If you cannot refute the factual evidence presented, first introduce distractions by referring to the subjective, irrelevant thoughts of others with vested interests.
    Failing that, discredit the presenter of the factual evidence (as a time waster?).

    So what you are saying is that the satellite measurements are false?

    I would be interested in where your Skeptical science site states that all 14+ orbiting satellite’s measurements taken since 1979 (that are in total agreement with each other) don’t really mean anything when they show that the average of 109 climate scientist’s models have overestimated global warming by 67%.

  8. New England Cocky

    Notice on the graph the the best GDP growth occurred between 2007 and 2013, when there were Labor governments, despite the on-going interference of the CIA causing the dumping of Kevin Rudd and the Rudd Gillard roundabout, and News Ltd, owned by a US citizen.

    So who are the best financial managers; Labor with the above figures or the COALition that doubled the national debt in less than six (6) years?

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