Far be it for TAFKAS to criticise the writings of Judith Sloan, but …
In today’s Australian, Judith wrote (in TAFKAS’ opinion) a mostly good piece:
TAFKAS agrees with the destination, but not the route.
Absolutely positively Judith is correct in her assessment that former Prime Ministers should surrender their microphones when they leave (or are pushed off) the stage. But when they say silly things, they should be criticised for their content of their comments and not their qualifications or credentials.
On Paul Keating’s recent ramblings on the RBA, Judith writes:
It is worth noting that Keating has no economics qualifications, in contrast to the RBA governor and deputy governor who have doctorates in economics. And Keating’s years as treasurer were in a different era with very different economic challenges from today.
The absence of economic qualifications does not disqualify someone from the debate. Stupid arguments disqualify, as were Keating’s. Referencing the PhD in economics for the RBA’s Debelle and Lowe from the Central Bank Seminary, MIT, the place where too many central bankers received their PhDs, does not given them an intellectual halo. Especially given the economic carnage caused by all the MIT PhD central bankers around the world.
This is the same reason we should not unquestioningly accept the positions of government health advisors in managing complex social systems just because they have medical degrees.
Judith also writes:
While the RBA has been doing its bit to support the economy, it has stopped short of effectively printing money, the course of action that Keating advocates.
Ding ding ding. The RBA has been printing money. Heaps of it. Just have a look at the RBA’s balance sheet:
From where does the RBA get the resources to increase the size of its balance sheet if not by printing money. And the RBA money printing did not start with COVID. COVID just caused an unusually large print.
The difference between quantitative easing (and what other used contemporary metaphors for central bank money printing) and MMT is who controls the presses. The RBA, not surprisingly, wants to decide what assets it buys with the money it prints (mostly financial assets of which mostly are bonds). The MMTers want the politicians to decided what assets to buy with printed money. And they like to buy ribbon cutting infrastructure assets where plaques and naming ceremonies can memorialise the project.
The quantitative easing theory is, at least, that financial assets can be sold to reduce the RBA balance sheet at some time in the future. But that almost never happens. Printing money is a bad idea no matter who controls the presses.
Judith also adds:
It’s not just monetary policy on which Keating is claiming expertise. Evidently, he’s also a gun on superannuation policy and how any increase in the contribution rate is paid.
To repeat. ITHO – in TAFKAS’ humble opinion – one does not need expertise to get into the debate. Either the argument is good or not good. TAFKAS also notes that, despite the views of some, journalists and opinion writers aren’t licenced to journalise or write opinions; they don’t need to demonstrate expertise to write or speak.
As for Kevin Rudd. Well. It is Kevin Rudd brings the spirit of Leo Tolstoy to Australian public life:
I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.
On Rudd, Judith writes:
He says the idea that an increase in the superannuation contribution rate would come at the expense of wages is “the biggest bullshit argument I have ever heard”. (He might want to talk to some of the best-qualified economists in Australia who overwhelmingly agree with this statement: increases in compulsory super contributions are likely to be largely paid for via slower growth than otherwise in workers’ wages.)
One does not need to speak to economists to prove the self evident. And the best-qualified economists in Australia? Are these the economists who successfully predicted 8 out of the last 3 recessions?
Rudd does not need to speak to economists, best qualified or otherwise. He can ask his wife who established a successful private sector business. Perhaps Mrs Rudd could advise from where come superannuation contributions. This assumes that Mrs Rudd can get a word in edgewise, but still.
TAFKAS agrees with Judith’s conclusion, but not the path she used to get there.
Both John Howard and Julia Gillard have been circumspect about weighing into political debates, mainly reserving their measured comments to their areas of interest and steering clear of stirring up unnecessary controversy. There is a clear lesson there.
Mind you, Australia’s last 7 Prime Minister were not, how do you say, the best of breed to start with anyway.