Prosperity of Australian households going south, while Keir Starmer praises Margaret Thatcher

I am covering a few topics today, given that I used yesterday’s post space to analyse the national accounts release. There is a further point I wish to make about the latest national accounts data. A focus on real household disposable income shows the full extent of the impacts of monetary policy (rate hikes) and fiscal policy (tax bracket creep) on household prosperity. The Australian government is overseeing one of the largest falls in household prosperity in recent history aided and abetted by the RBA. And the only thing the Treasurer has announced this week is his intention to alter the RBA Act to rescind his power to change monetary policy if it acts against the national interest. Meanwhile, the British Labour Party leader was out there praising Margaret Thatcher and equating her shock therapy to his own purges within the Labour Party of anything that resembles a progressive voice. After all that, I have some spiritual jazz for our listening pleasure.

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Australian national accounts – growth falls to 0.2 per cent in September – and only because of fiscal support measures

Today (December 6, 2023), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, September 2023 – which shows that the Australian economy grew by just 0.2 per cent in the September-quarter 2023 and by 2.1 per cent over the 12 months. If we extend the September result out over the year then GDP will grow by 0.8 per cent, well below the rate required to keep unemployment from rising. GDP per capita fell by 0.5 per cent and Real net national disposable income fell by 0.6 per cent – a measure of how far material living standards declined. Households cut back further on consumption expenditure growth while at the same time saving less relative to their disposable income in the face of rising interest rates and temporary inflationary pressures. Temporary fiscal policy measures (to ease cost-of-living pressures) were the difference between poor growth and no growth at all.

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British House of Lords inquiry into the Bank of England’s performance is a confusing array of contrary notions

On November 27, 2023, the Economic Affairs Committee of the British House of Lords completed their inquiry into the question – Bank of England: how is independence working? – by releasing their 1st Report after taking evidence for several months – Making an independent Bank of England work better. The report is interesting because it contains a confusing array of contrary notions. On the one hand, the witnesses to the Inquiry claimed it was “Groupthink” in operation that prevented the Bank from raising rates earlier and that it was obvious the inflationary pressures were traditional excess spending driven by excessive monetary supply growth (classic Monetarism). That assessment is contested by the alternative, which I adhere to, that the inflationary pressures were supply driven and not amenable to interest rate shifts. And the Groupthink arises because these economists consider interest rate changes would solve the inflation irrespective of the contributing factors. While the Report is sympathetic to the mainstream view as above, it then launches into a critique of the mainstream forecasting approaches. A confusing array of notions.

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