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."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shadow Governor, Terry McCrann, speaks

Big Tezza's take on the RBA's subtle shift in language:

""For the time being," we will have a government and a prime minister Gillard. And $43 billion being poured down the national broadband plughole. And probably not much else.

The way that Stevens actually used the four words should serve as something of a wake-up call. There's a reality out there, which takes - which will grab - precedence over Oakeshott's empty-headed Kumbaya politics and paralysed government.

He said monetary policy - the RBA's official rate - was "appropriate for the time being."

Now Stevens was not using the words as code for an official interest rate rise at the RBA's next board meeting in October.

As UBS's Matthew Johnson promptly pointed out, the last time the RBA used those exact same words, it did follow with a rate rise at the next meeting. And the two meetings after that.

That's the key point. That was then, this is now. Back in February, the RBA paused between two sets of three 25-point rises. The first set was to move rates away from their crisis-lows; the second to take them up to and back to 'normal'.

So no, the words don't promise a rate rise in October. But as Johnson more subtly and accurately explained, the decision now goes 'live' at the October meeting.

The bigger point in the context of the confirmation of chaos and stalemate in Canberra, is the complexity facing Stevens and his board narrowly in terms of the rate decision. But of economic management and the country more widely.

This is not to predict a looming meltdown. Quite the contrary - the more likely 'problem' we face is that of booming prosperity, as China Mk II and even bigger than China Mk I, roars away.

If only it was that simple. Give me - and more importantly Stevens - the challenge of prosperity any day. Even if we have to juggle a two-tier economy.

But it's not. We still have the possibility of a double-dip recession in the US, still the biggest economy if no longer the most important one for us.

Plus what happens slightly longer term, into 2011 and beyond.

So "for the time being" we have a government of sorts in Canberra and official rates on hold. In neither case is the "time being" going to be extended."