Friday, October 16, 2009

Economic literacy in Australia

Not all well this week. Youngest got flue, then me, and now my wife. Coughing and spluttering everywhere.

Some funny things happen from time to time with the Great Chinese Fire Wall. An old friend on face book based in Beijing has not posted for some time. His son advised in September that the page was blocked on the Chinese side.

I see that Michael Pettis's China Financial Markets has been effectively out of action since some time in September. You can see that there have been posts, you just can't see the posts! By digging around you can access post up to the end of August, not beyond this. Earlier Chinese access to Michael's site was blocked. Now it appears a little more. Still, it may be just a site problem.

A fascinating speech on 15 October from Australian Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens on Australian monetary policy. It emerges that in September 2007, one year before the Global Financial Crisis hit, one of the scenarios tested by Bank staff involved the implications of and actions that might follow a global financial crash. This was based on known strains in the international capital market. It didn't happen then, but when it did happen the Bank could just act. I must say that I found all this very re-assuring.  

During the week I managed to get to a speech by Access Economics's Chris Richardson. I was very critical of Access earlier in the year for their headline grabbing gloom and doom about the Australian economy. This time I thought Chris had some interesting and useful things to say. I will do a fuller post in due course. This, by the way, was my reason for checking Michael Pettis's blog.

All this got me musing. Australia has been well served at official level in a macro-economic policy sense. I may be wrong, I stand to be corrected, but I suspect that the general level of economic debate in Australia is very high by global standards. Further, economic literacy in this country runs quite deep, so that people do have views that they can argue. All this has a winnowing effect.

I could wish that the same thing was true of other policy areas. I wonder why its not. Part of the answer lies in Australians' obsessions with real estate I think that it's more than that. Another post?   

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