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."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Real Deal: Stutchbury Returns to the AFR (my thoughts)

Whoa, it's  been a busy 24hrs, but here are some quick thoughts. Hearty pat-on-the-back to Brett Clegg. This is an inspired move. Stutchbury is probably our most influential, if also polarising, business commentator. He is a heavy-hitter. Think an M1A Abrams tank in the sometimes flimsy commentator community. He tackles all the big policy issues without fear or favour. He goes straight for the jugular. He actively seeks out genuine news, and is endowed with a sharp mind that can synthesise complex subject matter and distill it down to its essence. He is also a top talking head.

Stutchbury and I do not always see eye-to-eye. We had a run-in over the Great Banking Debate circa late 2010 when he aligned himself with the Mike Smith/Malcolm Turnbull forces and tore strips off Joe Hockey and I. Subsequent events and publications, statements and research by the RBA, APRA, the FSB and the Basel Committee have, however, vindicated almost all of Hockey's key policy ideas.

Stutchbury was always a little too cosy at The Australian. He deserved a more challenging beat. He needs to lead. The AFR staff will be thrilled at the prospect of finally having a talented journalist taking them forward. And I am delighted that Brett Clegg has given him the opportunity to do so. Unleash the hounds!