We’ve been here before. Amid all the breathless commentary about the end of the mining boom, it pays to recall some economic history. Australians are no strangers to the boom and bust cycle of our “golden soil and wealth for toil”.
In an excellent speech delivered two years ago, but still relevant today, then Reserve Bank deputy governor Ric Battellino recounted the full story.
The gold rush days of the 1850s marked Australia’s first adventure in mining frenzy, following a similar gold rush in California in the late 1840s. Gold was discovered first near Bathurst in New South Wales, but discoveries were also made in Victoria shortly after.
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One of the worst features of the old industrial relations system was the so-called “go away money”.
This was the practice of employers paying amounts, usually in the order of $5,000 - $10,000, but sometimes much higher, to employees making an unfair dismissal claim.
It was a particular burden for small businesses who could not afford expensive HR managers, or the legal and time costs of defending a claim, no matter the merits.
It has now become clear that the old practices have returned.
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Nothing hits a family’s weekly budget harder than increases in the costs of daily essentials like food. Price hikes at the supermarket make consumers angry and politicians nervous.
And all shoppers know that the price of many staples have increased over recent years.
This was highlighted by the latest OECD figures showing the cost of feeding an average family has risen about 40 per cent in Australia over the past decade. So who is to blame – major supermarkets, manufacturers, the government?
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Everybody loves to complain when the price of bread, milk, cheese and other household staples creep up.
Like rising interest rates and the price of petrol, increasing food prices provoke anger and frustration among many struggling Australians families.
So it is not surprising that fluctuating food prices are regularly blamed on food and grocery companies and supermarkets.
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IT seems incredible but barely two years into the greatest depression/recession/downturn/hiccup (take your pick) the world has suffered since the 1930s, we’re already talking about bubbles again.
Experts fear the 30 per cent surge in the local stock market since March – mirroring a similar spike on Wall Street – is building into a premature and unsustainable bubble crying out to be pricked.
Reserve Bank boss Glenn Stevens reckons the housing market, fuelled by record low interest rates and the government’s first-home owners giveaway, is looking dangerously like a bubble that could need a dose of higher interest rates to deflate.
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