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Business + Economy — Analysis and Comment

Is assuming houses are like bananas making us look like apes? Michael Lokner/Flicker

Going bananas over affordable housing

A poster in the head office of a state planning agency claims: “Highest Housing Approvals in a decade: Keeping homes more affordable”. Indeed, the latest figures show national housing approvals rose 16…
Every treasurer should be aware of the ultimate cost of government spending to taxpayers. Alan Porritt/AAP

In defence of fiscally conservative treasurers

Many highly distinguished economists such as my friend Geoff Harcourt come from what is commonly known as the Post-Keynesian school. This means they believe the theory of economics and fiscal policy applied…
The ATO considers Bitcoin property, but rulings in other countries leave room for debate. Pierre Sibileau/Flickr

Bitcoin ruling still doesn’t answer which country has the right to tax

It’s been about five years since bitcoin emerged online, claiming to be the world’s first digital cryptocurrency. Bitcoin functions as a form of digital cash; really, it is a technology, using cryptography…
Australia’s corporate regulator wants to tackle what it believes is collusion in the petrol industry, but court action to date hasn’t really succeeded. AAP/Lukas Coch

Fixing the fixers of petrol prices is no easy task

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s latest foray into the difficult and politically charged arena of petrol pricing is just the latest in a long running saga that is unlikely to be resolved…
Australia has chosen not to rely on market forces for ubiquitous broadband. Kirk Lau/Flickr

The NBN needs Australian action, not a lesson from Canada

A recent piece in The Conversation suggested that for “top broadband policy” the Australian government should look to Canada. Many observers of the development of Canada’s broadband infrastructure would…
Labor’s NBN: too extravagant? Lukas Coch/AAP

NBN cost-benefit analysis signals the end of an era

The long-awaited cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network suggests the days of politicians shooting from the hip with taxpayer dollars are numbered. As Labor’s NBN unfolds amid reviews and…
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put media deregulation plans on the backburner, but that isn’t stopping market speculation of mergers to come. Dave Hunt/AAP

Nine and Fairfax Media streaming towards a full tango?

Communications Minister and internet evangelist, Malcolm Turnbull, says media deregulation is off the agenda for now and he’s in no rush to remove the remaining media ownership rules. The reason for the…
Regional post offices are doing it tough. Alpha/Flickr

Lost in the bush? Australia Post’s regional future

Former deputy prime minister and Nationals doyen Tim Fischer was famous for his whistle-stop press conferences outside rural post offices. The location was both symbolic and convenient. Rural and regional…
Tony Abbott has the support of business leaders, but will it last? Nikki Short/AAP

The Abbott economy at one: open for business, closed to real reform

In his victory speech on election night last September, prime minister Tony Abbott declared Australia was “under new management and … once more open for business”. There were, of course, specific promises…
Are the right people at the table to ensure global tax reform benefits everyone? Gates Foundation/Flickr

Developing nations need more than words from G20 tax reform

Tax reform is squarely on the agenda for the G20 Brisbane summit in November. The current international tax regime is broken and it’s going to take significant effort on a global scale to fix it. In a…
Widespread violent protests in Greece in response to austerity measures showed the world what a real sovereign risk looks like. Joanna/Flickr

What is and isn’t a ‘sovereign risk’

The use of the term “sovereign risk” by Trade Minister Andrew Robb to describe the federal budget stalling in the senate shows just how fast and loosely the term has come to be used. But to whom is the…
Fears Australia may be hammered in China’s attempts to rebalance its economy, might be overstated. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Weighing the risks for Australia as China rebalances

China’s leaders have been vocal in their support of a new growth model, one where consumption leads the way. Economic commentators fret about what this means for Australia. One view is that economic pain…
China is playing its own game of anti-monopoly. 铁蛋骑士/Flickr

Multinationals on notice as China plays monopoly card

If multinationals operating in China were not already aware China has a competition law and is not afraid to use it, events of the past few weeks should have prompted them to call their lawyers and ask…
Thanks to language, many people despise economists. Lafayette College/Flickr

Unemployed or lazy? Economists know better

Every scientific discipline has its own language, largely to save time when conversing with others from the same discipline. For instance, in trigonometry it’s much easier to talk about the “hypotenuse…
Australia’s housing market is among the most expensive in the world. AAP Image/Joel Carrett

Speaking with: Michael Darcy on housing affordability

In the past six months the federal government has cut the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) and announced an inquiry into foreign investment in residential real estate. In both cases the government…
The NBN has never shifted far from its Canberra masters. Lukas Coch/AAP

In support of a fibre to the premises NBN

In his independent audit of the public policy process behind the national broadband network, former Telstra director Bill Scales suggests there was never an internal debate about different technology options…
Has our use of economics language been a real driver of economic growth? Cau Napoli Collettivo Autorganizzato Universitario di Napoli/Flickr

Speak well of the bourgeois, and prosper

Do the words we use to speak of economic matters, matter? I believe they do, but not by the propagation of textbookish jargon. Rather, the main way they matter is in shaping public ethics. Economics has…
Does your treasurer suffer from deficit size fetishism? Alan Porritt/AAP

Why treasurers should go back to economics school

Though money and financial factors are integrated in complex ways in the workings of the economy, ultimately it is real resources – work forces (sizes and skills), capital goods and natural resources…
Consumers make subconscious decisions on what to consume. Zoe/Flickr

Emotions and eating: a marketer’s dream?

Both research and popular media tell us that emotions and eating are intrinsically related. How many times have we seen a character in a TV show reaching for the ice-cream tub when feeling particularly…
Despite the fact that Australians are getting wealthier, financial literacy is not increasing at the same rate. shutterstock

Millions of households are missing out on good financial planning

The wealth profile of Australian households has changed phenomenally over the past 25 years, according to a recent paper from the Australian Centre for Financial Studies. Thanks to increases in asset prices…
You can shine light on a dog, but it’s still a dog. cabancreative/Flickr

Most ‘big data’ marketing is a waste of time, and here’s why

A passer-by happens upon a drunk searching for a lost wallet under a streetlight. With nothing in plain sight, the passer-by asks “Where did you drop your wallet?”. “Over there,” gestures the drunk across…