Latest European Union rules provide no serious reform or increased capacity to meet the actual challenges ahead

It’s Wednesday and we have discussion on a few topics today. The first relates to the new agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council that was announced on February 10, 2024, which purports to reform the fiscal rules structure that has crippled the Member States of the EMU since inception. The reality is that the changes are minimal and actually will make matters worse. I keep reading progressives who claim the EU fiscal rules are no longer operative. Well, sorry, they are and the temporary respite during the pandemic is now over and the new agreement makes that very clear. I also express disappointment that high profile progressives continue to misrepresent Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as they advance their own agenda, which effectively provides support to the sound finance narratives. Then some updated health data which continues to support my perspective on Covid. And then some anti-fascist music. What’s not to like.

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Growing evidence that Covid has incapacitated a huge number of workers with little policy response forthcoming

Regular readers will know I have been assessing the evolving data concerning the longer-run impacts of Covid on the labour force. As time passes and infections continue, our immediate awareness of the severity of the pandemic has dulled, largely because governments no longer publish regular data on infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths. So the day-to-day, week-to-week tracking of the impacts are lost and it is as if there is no problem left to deal with. But data from national statistical agencies and organisations such as the US Census Bureau tell a different story and I am amazed that public policy has not responded to the messages – mostly obviously that in an era where populations are ageing and the number of workers shrinking, we are overseeing a massive attrition rate of those workers who are being forced into disability status from Covid. It represents a massive policy failure and a major demonstration of social ignorance.

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Latest US inflation data is no cause for alarm – the trend is down

It’s Wednesday and I have looked at the US CPI release overnight that has set alarm bells off in the ‘financial markets’ and among mainstream economists. My assessment is that there is nothing much to see – annual inflation less volatile items is still falling and the lagged impact of shelter (housing) is still evident even though that component is also in decline. I also examine an argument that the trend towards increasing self-reliance among nations is likely to precipitate renewed global conflict. My own view of this trend is that it must accelerate to allow us to shift to a degrowth trajectory. And I finish with some fine concertina music.

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Britain’s future is being compromised by the massive increase in long-term sickness among the working age population

When I was in London recently, I noticed an increase in people in the street who were clearly not working and looked to be in severe hardship from my last visit in 2020. Of course, in the intervening period the world has endured (is enduring) a major pandemic that has permanently compromised the health status of the human population. The latest data from the British Office of National Statistics (ONS) – Labour market overview, UK: February 2024 (released February 13, 2024) – provides some hard numbers to match my anecdotal observations. Britain has become a much sicker society since 2020 and there has been a large increase in workers who are now unable to work as a result of long-term sickness – millions. Further analysis reveals that this cohort is spread across the age spectrum. A fair bit of the increase will be Covid and the austerity damage on the NHS. Massive fiscal interventions will be required to change the trajectory of Britain which not only has to deal with the global climate disaster but is now experiencing an increasingly sick workforce, where workers across the age spectrum are being prematurely retired because they are too sick to work. With Covid still spreading as it evolves into new variations and people get multiple infections, the situation will get worse. It is amazing to me that national governments are not addressing this and introducing policies that reduce the infection rates.

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Electricity network companies profit gouging because government regulatory oversight has failed

It’s Wednesday, and today I discuss a recently published analysis that has found that Australian privatised electricity network companies are recording massive supernormal profits because the government has been to slack in its regulatory oversight. Electricity prices have been a major driver of the current inflationary episode and we now have analysis that shows where the problem lies. The preferred solution is for governments to renationalise the industry, but in lieu of that, they should at least force the companies to obey the relevant laws. And we then can listen to a soundtrack I heard while watching a movie between Tokyo and Sydney on Monday.

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Australia – inflation declines sharply

Today (June 28, 2023), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Monthly Consumer Price Indicator – which covers the period to May 2023. On an annual basis, the monthly All Items CPI rate of increase was 5.6 per cent down from 6.8 per cent. There is some stickiness in some of the components in the CPI but overall inflation peaked last year and is now declining fairly quickly as the factors that caused the pressures in the first place are abating. I doubt that any of this decline is due to the obsessive interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Anyway, a quick analysis of the data then some discussion of the British teachers’ pay dispute, the latest Australian Covid numbers (worrying) and some music to cheer us all up after the economics. The overwhelming point of today’s data is that this period of inflation is proving to be transitory and did not justify the rate increases. It was a supply-side event and trying to increase unemployment to kill off spending (demand) will just leave an ugly legacy once those supply-side factors abate (which they are and were always going to).

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The New Global Financing Pact equals the old failed global financial arrangements

It’s Wednesday and I cover a few topics usually in less depth than usual and provide a musical entree. From tomorrow (June 22 to 23), the so-called world leaders are meeting in Paris for the – Summit for a New Global Financing Pact – which is being hosted by the French president. The aim, apparently, is to build a new global architecture to replace the Bretton Woods system (they left it a while!) to ‘address climate change, biodiversity crisis and development challenges’. The solution that is being proposed is to allow the financial markets to create debt and speculative derivative products to fund the new architecture because, apparently, governments do not have the financial capacity. The whole initiative is about replacing defunct financial architecture but it still proposes to rely on the same (defunct) approach to public infrastructure development and the like that has failed dramatically to reduce inequality and poverty. It has certainly massively enriched the top-end-of-town and the same result will come out of this Pact. I also comment on the latest Brexit claims and provide a brief entree into some Covid research that I found interesting. Then some music.

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Inflation drops sharply in Australia but it is not the work of the RBA

Today (March 29, 2023), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the latest ‘monthly’ CPI data – Monthly Consumer Price Indicator – which covers the period to February 2023. On an annual basis, the monthly All Items CPI rate of increase was 6.8 per cent down from 7.4 per cent. While this signals a sharp decline in the annual rate of inflation, it should be noted that for the last month, the growth in the All Items CPI was zero, a point ignored by the media. So expect to see a fairly rapid decline. Yes, it is proving to be a transitory episode and the dynamics have not justified the rapid interest rate increases we have seen.

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Inflation has probably peaked in Australia – yes, it was a transient episode

Given yesterday’s extensive National Accounts analysis replaced my usual Wednesday blog post, I am using today to discuss a range of issues and provide a musical interlude into your lives for peace. Yesterday’s bad National Accounts data release took the headlines away from another data release from the ABS yesterday – the monthly CPI data results. Inflation is falling in Australia and has probably peaked. The RBA still thinks it is going to hike rates a few more times. As more data comes out, their cover (justifications) are evaporating by the day and it is becoming obvious that they are pushing rates up because they want to reclaim the territory as the ‘boss’ of macroeconomic policy irrespective of the costs and hardships they impose on lower-income Australian families. Shocking really. I also look at the new RadioMMT show which launched last week. And the debate about Covid continues but the evidence is being distorted badly by those who continue to claim it was all a conspiracy to bring us to heel. And then some music.

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RBA governor thinks massive bank profits are good while he wants unemployment to rise

It’s Wednesday and a lot is going on. The RBA governor appeared before the Commonwealth Senate Estimates Committee today and demonstrated what a troglodyte he is, defending massive bank profits and deliberately trying to cause unemployment. Meanwhile, US data shows that inflation has peaked and is now falling. The pace of the deceleration is picking up. Meanwhile – MMTed – is active and our 4-week course began today (see details below) and we are helping a new radio show to launch next week – Radio MMT. And we cannot go a Wednesday without some great music. All in a day.

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