The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gittins: media and business economists are misleading you abt weak economy

Classic Gittins. He also correctly notes that household incomes are growing by 7.5% per annum. Whoa, easy up tiger! What about all that stuff I read about household incomes falling a week or so ago? Well, that was ABS data too, but it was based on a survey between mid 2009 and mid 2010. And the fall in income related to the 1-2 years prior to that. Oh and that was in or around the GFC. So yes, that two-year-old data has nothing to do with the ABS data Gittins refers to deriving from the June quarter 2011. Here is what da man says:

"The punters know no better and, though it pains me to admit it, the media have a vested interest in not querying a bad-news story. But there's no excuse for the business economists - for them it's professional incompetence. Proof they're not as rational as their model assumes all of us are and not impervious to the popular perceptions around them, as their model also assumes.

This week's figures also reveal a tiny fall in the rate of household saving to 10.5 per cent of household disposable income. Though the ratio is notoriously volatile, this raises the possibility that households have got their rate of saving up to where they want it.

This, in turn, raises another point of arithmetic - it's not a high rate of saving that causes weak growth in consumer spending, it's an increasing rate of saving. Once the rate has stabilised, consumption must grow as fast as household disposable income is growing.

And despite all the phoney I-know-you're-doing-it-tough rhetoric coming as both sides of politics feed back the whinges they hear from their focus groups, the accounts confirm household income is growing particularly strongly - by a nominal 7.5 per cent over the year, way ahead of inflation.

That strong growth comes from a combination of healthy growth in employment (more household members with jobs) and somewhat excessive growth in real wages given our weak rate of productivity improvement.

Both factors are evidence most of us aren't doing it tough...

You have to be careful not to read too much into the quarterly national accounts, which are subject to frequent revision.

But you have to be even more careful not to be misled by those who cry loud and long about how tough things are. They're probably exaggerating (or being exaggerated by a bad-news obsessed media) while those who are doing fine say nothing."

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