March 2018

The Difference Between Trade and ‘Free Trade’

by Jim Stanford in The Guardian

U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent trade policies (including tariffs on steel and aluminium that could affect Australian exports) have raised fears of a worldwide slide into protectionism and trade conflict.  Trump’s approach has been widely and legitimately criticised.  But his argument that many U.S. workers have been hurt by the operation of current free trade

January 2018

Scare Tactics for Corporate Tax Cuts Do Not Stand Fact Checks

by Anis Chowdhury

In the wake of the Trump Administration’s success in pushing a major company tax cut through the U.S. Congress, the Australian Treasurer has stepped up his calls for reduced company taxes here. He claims Australia will bypass the growth-inducing benefits of these tax cuts, but Dr. Anis Chowdhury, Associate of the Centre for Future Work, has compiled the economic evidence.  The U.S. experience shows no statistical evidence of any “trickle-down” growth dividend from company tax cuts.

November 2017

Job Growth No Guarantee of Wage Growth

by Anis Chowdhury in The Sydney Morning Herald

Measured by official employment statistics, Australia’s labour market has improved in recent months: full-time employment has grown, and the official unemployment rate has fallen. But dig a little deeper, and the continuing structural weakness of the job market is more apparent. In particular, labour incomes remain unusually stagnant. In this commentary, Centre for Future Work Associate Dr. Anis Chowdhry reflects on the factors explaining slow wage growth — and what’s required to get wages growing.

July 2017

The Future of Work is What We Make It

by Sarah Kaine and Jim Stanford

Progressives everywhere are grappling with developing policy proposals to improve the quantity and quality of work in our economy, as part of their broader vision for building more successful and inclusive societies. To this end, the Fabians Society in NSW recently published an interesting booklet of policy proposals, to inject into debate within the Labor Party and other fora. One chapter written by Sarah Kaine (Associate Professor at UTS and a member of the Centre for Future Work’s Advisory Committee) and Jim Stanford (Economist and Director of the Centre) deals head-on with the challenges facing work, and what can be done to make it better; it is reprinted below.

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

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