ECONOMICS


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What lies beneath the finance industry's water words

10 Comments
04 June 2017 | David James

Paper boatOne thing that is rarely done is a literary-style analysis of the language used in finance and business. It can quickly reveal the sleight-of-hand, even outright deception, that plague these powerful sectors. To take one example, finance language heavily relies on water metaphors, which are deeply misleading. It is unlikely that this is done deliberately; it is more probably reification (making the intangible appear to be concrete). But its consequences have been, and remain, devastating.


Millennials want to change the world through their work

2 Comments
14 May 2017 | Rachel Kurzyp

Millennial and Boomer badger money-focused Senior Manager. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonKids these days. We can't hold down a job, we expect to be promoted before we've proven ourselves and we put our career needs before the needs of an organisation. We're the largest age group, making up 37 per cent of the Australian workforce, yet we're expected to shut up and wait our turn. What is it about millennials that has everyone scared? People claim the stereotype is based on generational cohort, not age. But for young Australians in the workforce, they are one and the same thing.


Budget's bank slug flouts the property precipice

3 Comments
09 May 2017 | David James

Banks logosThe $6.2 billion the government will raise through a levy on bank liabilities not only shows how out of favour banks have become, it is also, in effect, a de facto tax on property lending - a counterbalance to negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks. It is a tax on property lending because nearly all the banks' loans are mortgages for housing, or business loans secured with property. Of course the banks will pass the extra cost on to their customers, so it becomes a tax on borrowers.


Beyond fake news lies the fog of fake figures

6 Comments
01 May 2017 | David James

GDPFake news aside, increasingly, we live in a world of fake figures. There is a cliche in management that 'what gets measured gets done'. In public discourse that might be translated to 'what gets measured is considered real'. One obvious fake figure is GDP, which is taken as a measure of national wellbeing. In fact, it is just a measure of transactions. If money changes hands because something disastrous happens then GDP will rise. That is hardly an indicator of national wellbeing.


The language of exploitation in the online labour market

3 Comments
23 April 2017 | Daniel Nicholson

Deliveroo bicycle delivery personWhen you are in the business of exploiting people, language matters. A recently leaked document from Deliveroo is geared to emphasising that the people who deliver food for Deliveroo are and should remain independent contractors, not employees. In 2016, a Unions NSW report into the employment practices of gig-economy company AirTasker categorised the online labour market as 'unregulated Taylorism within a Dickensian marketplace where workers compete for bite-sized fragments of labour'.


Deconstructing the privatisation scam

12 Comments
03 April 2017 | David James

Melbourne airport parking ticketIt is increasingly evident how pernicious the privatisation myth is. Two recent examples have underlined it: the failings in Australia's privatised energy grid and the usurious pricing in airport car parks. Both demonstrated that it is folly to expect a public benefit to inevitably emerge from private profit seeking. The purpose of government funded public infrastructure is not to make profits but to lower the cost of doing business, sometimes called the socialisation of the means of production.


Penalty rate cuts are the result of thinking small

17 Comments
06 March 2017 | David James

Sign reads 'closed Sunday'Witnessing the debate over Sunday penalty rates, an intriguing pattern of thinking emerged. It can be characterised as a microcosm/macrocosm duality. Those arguing for lower Sunday wage rates demonstrate their case by talking about individual businesses, the micro approach: 'Many businesses would love to open on a Sunday and if wage rates were lower, they would. Unleash those businesses and greater employment will follow.' Superficially impressive, this does not survive much scrutiny.


Trump's pro-globalisation critics miss the key questions

10 Comments
06 February 2017 | David James

CNN headline has Trump declaring globalisation has wiped out the middle classMany defenders of globalisation express frustration at the rise of Trump and what they see as an ignorant and self-defeating backlash against its virtues. But they have no answer to the most pressing question: Is the global system there to serve people, or are people there to serve the global system? They also never address a central contradiction of globalisation: that capital is free to move, but for the most part people are not, unless they belong to the elite ranks.


Financial literacy programs need to get real

8 Comments
15 December 2016 | Rachel Kurzyp

young boy stacking coinsStudies have found that in Australia, groups with the poorest financial awareness and skills are those under 25, those with no formal post-secondary education, those on low incomes and working 'blue collar occupations', and women. While it makes sense to provide these groups with financial information on home loans and super, this wouldn't have helped my mother when she had to decide between, say, buying groceries for the week or getting the car serviced.


Hollowed out labour market stymies equal opportunity

5 Comments
12 December 2016 | Veronica Sheen

Woman corporateOver the last two decades we have seen a process of job polarisation. There has been growth in high end jobs, but mostly in low end jobs, the outcome of which has been the hollowing out of middle level jobs. This hollowing out of the middle also relates to greater wealth polarisation, as French economist Thomas Piketty has brought to light. The labour market is under a lot of pressure from many angles, so what does this mean for the project of women's equal opportunity in employment?


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