Last week (November 15, 2023), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Wage Price Index, Australia – for the September-quarter 2023, which shows that the aggregate wage index rose by 1.3 per cent over the quarter (up 0.5 points) and 4 per cent over the 12 months (up 0.3 points). The ABS noted this was a “record” increase in relation to the history of this time series, which began in 1997. The RBA and all the economists who want interest rates higher (mostly because the financial market institutions they represent profit from higher rates) are now claiming that the higher wages growth is evidence of a domestic inflation problem and higher unemployment is needed to force wages down. The problem is that the nominal wages growth is still well below the inflation rate (which is falling) and while productivity growth is weak, the decline in real wages is still larger than the decline in productivity growth. That combination, which I explain in detail below, signifies that corporations are failing to invest the massive profits they have been earning and are also taking advantage of the current situation to push up profit mark-ups. A system that then forces tens of thousands of workers out of employment to deal with that problem is void of any decency or rationale.
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.
This is my last Report from Kyoto for 2023. I will be returning to my work there in 2024 and there are still lots of things to report on. I seem to discover more as I learn more, which is always a good thing. Anyway, our bikes are back in storage, our cases packed and by the time this comes out I will be back down South with mixed feelings about that. Life goes on though. Stay tuned for the Kyoto Report 2024 series – starting sometime next year.
My time in Japan this year has come to an end (sob). It is back home for me and I will have to wait until next year before I return. At any rate, today I have no time to write a post so you will have to be content listening to the music I have ready for the flight.
Episode 5 in our new weekly Manga series – The Smith Family and their Adventures with Money – is now available. Have a bit of fun with it and circulate it to those who you think will benefit …
Today (November 16, 2023), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Labour Force, Australia – for October 2023. Employment rose by 55 thousand and unemployment rose by 27,900 on the back of a 0.2 points rise in participation – usually a sign of a healthy situation. But the special monthly factors (referendum and elections) which impacted positively on employment growth make it hard to assess where the labour market is at. I am guessing that November’s employment growth will be much lower and participation will fall again. In October, noting the special factors, employment growth was not strong enough in September to absorb the rise in the labour force as participation rose by 0.2 points. If the participation rate had not have changed, then the official unemployment rate would be 3.4 per cent rather than the official rate published of 3.7 per cent. There are now 10 per cent of the available and willing working age population who are being wasted in one way or another – either unemployed or underemployed. Australia is not near full employment despite the claims by the mainstream commentators.
It’s Wednesday, and today I discuss the latest US inflation data, which shows a significant annual decline in the inflation rate with housing still prominent. But for reasons I discuss, we can expect the housing inflation to fall in the coming months. I also discuss how on-going fiscal ignorance allows the Australian government to avoid investing in much-needed fast rail infrastructure which would solve many problems that are now reducing societal well-being. And then some of the best guitar playing you will ever hear.
This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life for a westerner (me) who is working for several months at Kyoto University in Japan.
The resurgence of economic orthodoxy is a great example of how declining schools of thought can maintain dominance in the narrative for extended periods of time if the vested interests are powerful enough. In the case of the economics profession, mainstream New Keynesian theory persists because it serves the interests of capital. Recently, the IMF urged the Australian government to engage in ‘fiscal consolidation’ in order to support further interest rate hikes by the RBA aimed at reducing inflation quickly. In general, the IMF is urging nations to engage in fiscal austerity in order to bring their public debt ratios down. The problem is that even their own research shows that these fiscal adjustments on average do not succeed. And, usually, they leave a damaged society where the lower income and disadvantaged cohorts are forced to endure the bulk of the negative effects.