29 October 2018

Australia’s dangerous fantasy: diverting population growth to the regions

A dangerous fantasy is taking hold in Australia: that government policy can divert population growth from our bulging capital cities to our needy regions. It’s a fantasy because a century of Australian history shows it won’t work. And it’s dangerous because it gives governments an excuse to avoid the hard decisions on planning and transport needed to make housing more affordable and cities more liveable.

4 December 2017

Australia isn’t dominated by big businesses that gouge customers

When we see excessive spikes in fuel prices, rapid annual increases in health insurance premiums, and a confusing array of electricity options to choose from, it is easy to conclude that big companies are using their market power to gouge their customers. But the latest report from the Grattan Institute finds claims about Australia being dominated by oligopolies are overblown. Only about 15% of the economy is dominated by large firms.

3 August 2017

Australia’s city/country divide is not as wide as you may think

Many people assume Australia’s regions are getting a raw deal compared to the big cities. But beneath the oft-told “tale of two Australias” is a more nuanced story. Cities and regions both have pockets of disadvantage, as well as areas with healthy income growth and low unemployment. But shifts in population are driving a wedge between city and regional Australia.

18 May 2017

FactCheck: do Australian banks have double the return on equity of banks in other developed economies?

In its 2017 federal budget, the Australian government included a 0.06% levy on Australia’s biggest five banks that will collectively cost the banks A$1.6 billion a year. Many commentators have suggested this cost will be passed directly onto customers. However, Scott Morrison said the banks could absorb the cost of the levy, given the size of their profits. Is that right?

20 March 2017

Women are dropping out of economics, which means men are running our economy

The dearth of women in leadership positions raises a red flag for the quality of Australia’s economic decision-making. Too many “like” individuals reduces the range of perspectives informing decisions. It also means wasted talent: if you bench half your potential team then the one that takes to the field is probably not your strongest.

27 February 2017

Business investment is weak, but an unfunded company tax cut won’t fix it

Eight years after the global financial crisis (GFC), economic growth remains weak in many rich nations. Australia has been an exception to the malaise, but growth has slowed as the mining boom winds down.

27 February 2017

What will it take to kickstart non-mining invesment?

The huge five-year fall in mining investment in Australia may be drawing to a close, but non-mining business investment remains close to 50 year-lows, as a share of GDP.

4 January 2017

Productivity and geography: Presentation to Productivity Commission Conference

While economic growth has been concentrated in cities for some time, the trend has really accelerated in the past decade. Half of all jobs growth is now within a 2km radius of the city centres in both Melbourne and Sydney, reflecting the increasing share of new jobs in services industries where physical proximity really matters.

17 November 2016

Yes, you’re entitled to your opinion – but it helps if you’re a man

Newspaper opinion pages are a largely male affair. Poor representation on opinion pages means less scope for women to influence opinion and effect policy change.

11 July 2016

What the government should do now: economic growth

The Coalition has scraped into a second term. How credible is its economic growth program, and what else should it do to strengthen growth?