Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens put it eloquently yesterday when he complained that economic discussion in this country has “reached a rather curious position”.
An objective observer arriving from overseas, according to the Governor, would feel that Australia’s glass is at least half full, but Australians themselves are “grimly determined to see our glass as half empty”. In a speech to a business lunch in Adelaide, Stevens said: “Numerous foreign visitors to the Reserve Bank have remarked on the surprising extent of this pessimism.
“Each time I travel abroad I am struck by the difference between the perceptions held by foreigners about Australia and what I read in the newspapers at home.”
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If nothing else, the upcoming budget week shows us the priorities of the government. We all know by now that this government is increasingly laying its political fortunes at the feet of a budget surplus and hoping that this will continue to drive down interest rates. It is one way that are attempting to deal with the feeling that the cost of living is continuing to rise.
There are rarely any major surprises on budget night: sure, the occasional announcement captures us off guard but after weeks of leaks and warnings about ‘tough decisions’, we all know what to expect. Then the sales job begins and we continue on our merry way.
The problem is, however, that a treasurer will never look us in the eye and tell us unpleasant truths. Sure, we are told that it is time we tighten out belts, but never will one admit to the limitations of both their projections or the very flawed models they are working with.
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