section: Economics

  • ECONOMICS

    Why musicians are the canaries in the coal mine

    • Terry Noone
    • 21 August 2017
    9 Comments

    To get a good idea of where employment practices are headed, a good place to start is the music industry. Musicians have been the canary in the coalmine. The gradual removal of their work place rights, and even basic remuneration, points to what happens when there are no effective constraints on employers’ behaviour. Instead, they are being offered ‘exposure’—and, as one muso quips, ‘you can die of exposure.’

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  • ECONOMICS

    Of murderers, bastards and inequality: neo-liberalism's failure

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 16 August 2017
    18 Comments

    Cometh the hour, cometh the third murderer. So now inequality is in the spotlight and is being booed off the stage. It is blamed for the rise of populist politics, and more fundamentally for economic stagnation. The economic neo-liberal orthodoxy, that so implausibly claimed that economic competition unfettered by government regulation would benefit all of the citizens, has produced the gross inequality that hinders economic growth. 

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  • ECONOMICS

    Outlawing smoking for the young is a social responsibility

    • Collince Adienge
    • 31 July 2017
    7 Comments

    When limitations are placed on an individual’s liberty some people will call it bureaucracy or tyranny; others will say that they have been denied an opportunity to make decisions. The common sense middle position is typically that freedoms should be protected if they do not infringe on other peoples’ rights. 

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  • ECONOMICS

    Where is money headed?

    • David James
    • 30 July 2017
    2 Comments

    The daily fluctuations of financial markets and the fractious debates over economic policy are concealing something deeper and much more disturbing. The future of money itself is in question. A decade after world banking almost collapsed in the global financial crisis, the questions raised have not been answered.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Bitcoin revolution is a matter of trust

    • David James
    • 30 June 2017
    2 Comments

    One of the more interesting recent developments in finance has been the creation of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. They are being touted as a revolution in how we think and use money. Alternately, there are many who want to go in the opposite direction, back to the gold standard. Both sides have a common enemy: money whose value is determined by government dictate. Allowing governments to dictate in this way, they argue, is the core of the problem. To a significant extent, they are wrong.

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  • ECONOMICS

    What lies beneath the finance industry's water words

    • David James
    • 05 June 2017
    10 Comments

    One 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.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Millennials want to change the world through their work

    • Rachel Kurzyp
    • 15 May 2017
    3 Comments

    Kids 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.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Budget's bank slug flouts the property precipice

    • David James
    • 10 May 2017
    3 Comments

    The $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.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Beyond fake news lies the fog of fake figures

    • David James
    • 02 May 2017
    6 Comments

    Fake 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.

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  • ECONOMICS

    The language of exploitation in the online labour market

    • Daniel Nicholson
    • 24 April 2017
    3 Comments

    When 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'.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Deconstructing the privatisation scam

    • David James
    • 04 April 2017
    13 Comments

    It 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.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Penalty rate cuts are the result of thinking small

    • David James
    • 07 March 2017
    17 Comments

    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.

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