News // Economics

June 2017

May 2017

Budget Wrap-Up

Commonwealth Treasurer Scott Morrison tabled his 2017-18 budget in Parliament House on May 9, and the Centre for Future Work’s Director Jim Stanford was there in the lock-up to analyse its likely impacts. Here are some of our main impressions and comments:

April 2017

Economists Debunk Job-Creation Claims of Penalty Rate Cut

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday work in the retail and hospitality sectors should be reduced, which would reduce hourly wages on those days by up to $10 per hour. Business lobbyists predict this will spark a hiring surge in stores and restaurants, as employers take advantage of lower wages to extend hours and ramp up operations. The economic logic of this claim is highly suspect, however – especially in light of the fundamental factors which truly limit employment in these sectors (namely, the sluggish growth of personal incomes). 78 Australian economists have signed a public letter debunking these job-creation claims, arguing that the FWC’s decision will lead to more inequality, not more employment.

March 2017

Don’t Pop Champagne Corks Over Longest Growth Streak

by Anis Chowdhury

On April 1, Australia will surpass the Netherland’s old record to mark the longest unbroken expansion of real GDP in modern history. While this result permits much chest-thumping on the part of some politicians, we should never assume that there is an automatic correlation between GDP growth and the well-being of people, society, and the environment.

February 2017

Employers’ pyrrhic penalty rates win reflects self-defeating economics

by Jim Stanford in The Sydney Morning Herald

The Fair Work Commission unveiled its long-awaited decision on penalty rates for Sunday and holiday work this week. Penalty rates for most retail and hospitality workers will be cut, by up to 50 percentage points of the base wage. Hardest hit will be retail employees: their wages on Sundays will fall by $10 an hour or more. For regular weekend workers, that could mean $6000 in lost annual income.

Cutting penalty rates will reinforce wage stagnation

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce penalty rates for Sundays and holidays in retail and hospitality jobs will reinforce wage stagnation and further widen income inequality, which is bad news for the economy as a whole, according to Dr. Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute. “It’s painfully

November 2016

Go Home on Time: Wednesday 23 November

The Centre for Future Work is proud to host this year’s Go Home on Time Day. It’s the eighth annual edition of this event, which draws light-hearted attention to a serious issue: the economic, social, and health consequences of excess working hours.

October 2016

What’s Wrong With Privatization?

by Jim Stanford

You know that the tides of public opinion are starting to turn, when even the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr. Rod Sims, will come out in public and criticize the usual claims that privatization is good for efficiency and national well-being.

August 2016

The Flawed Economics of Cutting Penalty Rates

by Jim Stanford

It was a “sleeper” issue in the recent election, and led to the defeat of some high-profile Liberal candidates.  But now the debate over penalty rates for work on weekends and public holidays shifts to the Fair Work Commission.  The economic arguments in favour of cutting penalties (as advocated by lobbyists for the retail and

June 2016

Jobs and Growth… and a Few Hard Numbers

by Jim Stanford

Voters typically rank economic issues among their top concerns. And campaigning politicians regularly make bold (but vague) pronouncements regarding their competence and credibility as “economic managers.”  In popular discourse, economic “competence” is commonly equated with being “business-friendly.”

May 2016

Bracket Creep Is A Phoney Menace

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

For someone who piously bemoans an “us versus them” mentality in political culture, Treasurer Scott Morrison certainly drove a deep wedge into the social fabric with one of the centrepieces of his budget. There are four thresholds in the personal income tax system; Morrison chose to increase one of them, supposedly to offset the insidious effects of “bracket creep.” The third threshold will be raised from $80,000 to $87,000.

6 Reasons to Be Skeptical of Debt-Phobia

by Jim Stanford

In the lead-up to tomorrow’s pre-election Commonwealth budget, much has been written about the need to quickly eliminate the government’s deficit, and reduce its accumulated debt.  The standard shibboleths are being liberally invoked: government must face hard truths and learn to live within its means; government must balance its budget (just like households do); debt-raters will punish us for our profligacy; and more.  Pumping up fear of government debt is always an essential step in preparing the public to accept cutbacks in essential public services.   And with Australians heading to the polls, the tough-love imagery serves another function: instilling fear that a change in government, at such a fragile time, would threaten the “stability” of Australia’s economy.

April 2016

State Income Taxes Would Promote Inequality and Debt

by Jim Stanford

The latest “big idea” on tax policy from the Coalition government is to grant independent income tax powers to the states.  This would be accompanied by a devolution of funding responsibility for big-ticket services like health care, hospitals, and schools.  Prime Minister Turnbull argues that forcing state governments to raise the money they spend will

March 2016

Company Tax Cuts: A Cautionary Tale from Canada

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

Was it really the Treasury’s economic modeling that convinced Prime Minister Turnbull to abandon his plan to raise the GST and cut income taxes? Treasury simulations indicated the trade-off would have no significant impact on growth. Or perhaps it was another kind of calculation – electoral – that convinced the Coalition to drop the idea, and the economic numbers just provided political cover.

November 2015

General Enquiries

Tanya Martin Executive Assistant

02 6130 0530

mail@australiainstitute.org.au

Media Enquiries

Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser

0413 208 134

jake@australiainstitute.org.au

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