The Cormann factor

The OECD in times gone by was the spearhead of economic reform promoting smaller government, free trade, dismantling of industry support (with agriculture always an exception given the protectionism of Europe and Japan).

In more recent times it has focussed on decarbonisation, gender issues (there is a “gender portal” and many lectures about how progress-on-gender-equality-is-too-slow).  The OECD is also – probably always was – a proponent of Keynesian stimulus. The present Secretary General is the Mexican socialist José Ángel Gurría.

When Matthias Cormann threw his hat into the ring for the top job, it seemed a long shot.  Australia’s Finance Minister was up against several female candidates at a time when it is fashionable to see one at the top.  The favourite was Cecilia Malmström, a politician from the small centre right Swedish Liberal Party. She is an advocate for children and combating terrorism through “preventive measures, rather than through confrontation”, and is former European Commissioner for Trade.

Cormann is a solid Liberal, ostensibly fiscally conservative in his job as Finance Minister but without seeing much progress in cutting the fat out of Commonwealth spending.  He showed a clear adaptability, one might almost say wokeness, in thanking people for their help in his getting the job.  He said, “It is an incredibly exciting opportunity, and there’s a big job to be done to help drive stronger, cleaner, fairer, more inclusive growth.” Cleaner, fairer and more inclusive is the trifecta essential to win the EU and US/Canada vote.

Hopefully Cormann in his statement was being, Henri IV-like in saying that “Paris is worth a mass”. But probably not as he would have had to convince the electors of his bona fides and the institutional structure in place is likely to make him little more than a figurehead.  The OECD is likely to continue to be one of a dozen international organisations foisting increased costs onto economies, particularly in pursuit of decarbonisation.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to The Cormann factor

  1. Buccaneer says:

    If gender issues and decarbonisation are such an advantage, why are the Chinese only paying lip service to them and yet remain so confident they will overtake the west?

  2. Robber Baron says:

    Corman got as far away from Turnbull as he could.

  3. Old Moss says:

    It was Corman who refused to answer Malcolm Roberts specific question and instead lectured that “Australia was a good global citizen” and would deliver accordingly.

    Whatever Corman’s liberalism is it includes a smug Globalist agenda.

  4. sabena says:

    We will give him the benefit of the doubt-for the moment.No doubt the other candidates would have been worse.
    Why do we need the OECD?

  5. Eyrie says:

    EU agent sent to hobble the Australian economy. He did a good job, hence the reward. The OECD is useless.

  6. mh says:

    Cormann is a solid Liberal, ostensibly fiscally conservative in his job as Finance Minister but without seeing much progress in cutting the fat out of Commonwealth spending

    Finance minister from 2013 – 2020.
    Look at the balance sheets in that time period. Fiscally conservative my anus.

  7. Baa Humbug says:

    Watch for Cormann to talk about the importance of “zero emissions’ in 3..2..1..

    One has gots to please the cock, tail party inviterers you know.

  8. Neil says:

    ostensibly fiscally conservative in his job as Finance Minister

    We have not run a surplus budget since 2007.

    Shows how great Howard/Costello were. Ran surplus budgets from 1996-2007, something no govt has done since 1972

  9. candy says:

    I doubt most Australians have heard of the OECD and most people associate Mr Cormann with smoking cigars while carrying out a tough budget and a European accent.

    At a guess, I think PM Morrison is happy to have him out of the way because of that. He has very decided views on who he wants in his Cabinet and Cormann was not encouraged.

  10. Tim Neilson says:

    I doubt most Australians have heard of the OECD and most people associate Mr Cormann with smoking cigars while carrying out a tough budget and a European accent.

    I’d say only a “supposedly tough budget”, but otherwise I agree.

  11. Scott Osmond says:

    The OECD, just another organisation that is no longer fit for purpose and should be withdrawn from.

  12. miltonf says:

    The OECD, just another organisation that is no longer fit for purpose and should be withdrawn from.

    Yes. Just like NATO, the EEC-EU, the UN. NATO is probably one of the sickest jokes around- created to contain the Soviet Union and still around 30 years after the USSR went into liquidation. Those ‘nice’ ‘jobs’ are just too nice to let go.

  13. miltonf says:

    The tough budget- is that when they increase taxes on their supporters plus giving the welfare lobby something to whine about?

    Cormann-Hockey-Brandis seemed to undermine Abbott and ALL parachuted into ‘nice’ ‘jobs’. We have money extorted from us under threat of punitive treatment to pay for the antics of these repulsive clowns.
    Cigars- Hawke liked them too.

  14. Boxcar says:

    What happened to the good old days of snagging a gig with The Clinton Foundation?

  15. mh says:

    Congrats to Belgium.

  16. BalancedObservation2 says:

    ” …but without seeing much progress in cutting the fat out of Commonwealth spending.”

    That is actually worse than a gigantic understatement. It’s wrong. The deficit actually doubled during Cormann’s time as Finance Minister – and that was before any covid spending.

  17. JohnJJJ says:

    From a movement to a business to a racket.
    They all start with high ideas, people join as they are believers giving work hard and honesty. Once established they need financial stability and the business crowd get the jobs. Once stable the next group to arrive are the career bureaucrats. Only concerned with their careers and building mini kingdoms: WTO, UN, Universities, EU, UNESCO, Greenpeace, Democrats and Republican party, ALP, LNP, WHO…. . That is why their management can move between any of these. Being mini kings, awash with reciprocal favours, they can all be “influenced”, as the Chinese know well.

  18. BalancedObservation2 says:

    It’s a pretty good personal achievement for the loyal Liberal and a nice posting back to his roots.

    As a long serving Finance Minister and never Treasurer he was always the bridesmaid never quite the bride.

    He was seen by most Liberals as loyal and solid – the exception being Malcolm Turnbull who you could argue wasn’t a Liberal anyway.

    Malcolm seemed to take the fallout with Mathias pretty personally ( they had previously appeared close on a personal level) whereas Mathias – although publicly regretting the fallout – seemed to take it more in his stride. To me that showed he was the true thick-skinned politician.

    Like most finance ministers we’ve had his overall achievements (hard to recall any immediately) seem pretty underwhelming. Perhaps survival as a politician was the key achievement.

    I can recall only a couple of Finance ministers that made an impression who astonishingly were on the Labor side of politics.

  19. Shy Ted says:

    Finance ministers are responsible for controlling spending. He failed. Or he succeeded. Just depends on where your politics lie. He failed me and mine. On the list.

  20. BalancedObservation2 says:

    Shy Ted

    Arguably if the deficit doubles on your watch as finance minister and there has been no unforeseen economic crisis like say the GFC – you probably haven’t been too successful.
    There may be exceptions to that but I can think of any.

  21. mh says:

    I was searching for that interview Costello did with Alan Kohler last year, but no luck.

    Costello argued that today’s Australian economy is a different beast to his economy, labelling it a European economy, running on perennial deficits.

    Fitting that the Belgian got the top job.

  22. Tony Taylor says:

    Building a wall is a “preventive measure,” n’est ce pas?

  23. BalancedObservation2 says:

    mh

    Peter Costello was Treasurer during the golden years of the mining boom. Hard to stuff the job up at a time like that. It is possible though and to his credit he didn’t stuff it up.

    Like Mathias, Peter was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. A long standing Treasurer and deputy Liberal leader but never PM.

  24. Roger says:

    Cormann is a solid Liberal…

    Speaks volumes about what the modern Liberal Party stands for.

    A self-serving “pragmatism” that effects little to no reform and political careerism.

  25. Tim Neilson says:

    Peter Costello was Treasurer during the golden years of the mining boom. Hard to stuff the job up at a time like that.
    Pretty good years but not exactly the “golden years”. Commodity prices were way higher on Goose Swansteen’s watch than they had been for Costello.
    But that proves your point that it is possible to stuff it up.

  26. Pyrmonter says:

    An Australian at the OECD – which might drag focus away from the stagnation of Europe – a good idea.

    Cormann at the OECD? There is no reason whatever to think he’ll achieve anything. He is no reformer; has no commitment to reducing the size and scope of the state. How he survived the debacle of the 2013 budget – which raised taxes, promoted further government outlays, rejected the ready-made reform agenda of the Shepherd National Audit Committee – is one of the miracles of modern mis-government that only the historans will be able to explain. The man has stood for state-paternalism and nothing remotely free market, even within the limited bounds of ‘free markets because they work’.

  27. JohnJJJ>

    They all start with high ideas, people join as they are believers giving work hard and honesty. Once established they need financial stability and the business crowd get the jobs. Once stable the next group to arrive are the career bureaucrats. Only concerned with their careers and building mini kingdoms: WTO, UN, Universities, EU, UNESCO, Greenpeace, Democrats and Republican party, ALP, LNP, WHO…. . That is why their management can move between any of these. Being mini kings, awash with reciprocal favours, they can all be “influenced”, as the Chinese know well.

    Well put.
    This is why the Purge must start at thePM level and include all the way down to Top level bureaucrats. The lucky Assistant Bureaucrats must be made aware that their standing depends on their adherence to the new boss.
    Be ready to sack the new bureaucrats at the drop of a hat.
    Had President Trump followed this advice, he would have eliminated most of the swamp creatures instantly, frightened the remainder into impotency, and would have had time to enact his reforms.
    He should have purged like a teenage anorexic.

  28. Nato says:

    “institutional structure in place is likely to make him little more than a figurehead”

    Yes, but should the chairman be promoting the stated goals of the organization, or the organization itself? Cormann was the best possible choice.

    He scrubs up well, speaks an easy-listening pace in a pleasant tenor and has a clear vision of treasury accountants uniting the mouth-breathing common folk to a shining future.

    The OECD is going to do well during Cormann’s tenure and I’ll bet you a fiver they will grow remarkably in this time.

  29. BalancedObservation2 says:

    Tim Neilson

    Wayne Swan was a pretty lacklustre treasurer but he had the GFC to contend with – the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.

    Peter Costello had a very easy run. No major financial crisis and rivers of resources gold. It suited his style. The man who spat the dummy and refused to lead when John Howard retired.

    However Costello was treasurer in the sort of time for major tough reforms when the economy is buzzing along. It’s easier then to be tough and make changes but he didn’t. He lacked the ticker for it and the ticker to lead.

    He and Paul Keating are the fathers of much of our middle class welfare legacy. Keating the major offender with the superannuation scheme. One of the biggest public policy failures in our history.

  30. BalancedObservation2 says:

    Pyrmonter

    I got the impression that Mathias Corman never really wielded a lot of power in government which isn’t unusual for a finance minister.

    Why did he survive? Partly because he wasn’t seen as the driver of poor policies and also because he’s accomplished in the arts of political survival – probably a very hard worker, certainly with a very thick skin and a personally accommodating style to adeptly weave his way unscathed through power changes. He made only one major style error – the cigar smoking incident with Joe Hockey.

    You’d reckon he’ll continue to be a similar player at the OECD but sometimes people change for the better given the opportunities that a new environment can present. Let’s hope he shines there. I wish him well. He’s a likable sort of bloke.

  31. Ed Case says:

    He had a meteoric rise, after 5 minutes in Australia, and without being able to converse in the sort of English that anyone would understand, he’s working as a Political Staffer in a Senator’s office, where his rise continues to the point that 10 years later, he’s a Senator himself and 6 years after that, he’s a Cabinet Minister.
    Now he’s popped up as Grand Poobah of the OECD.
    And we still don’t know who he is or his background.

  32. mh says:

    Cormann is an economic girly-man.

  33. gary says:

    Australia is seen as being particularly bullied by China, so I wonder if the Brisbane Olympics and the OECD vote are anti-China votes.

    Happily the OECD vote will anger two bored relevancy deprived China lovers, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull.

  34. Econocrat says:

    From our friend Judith:

    Every time I read an utterance from the managing director of the International Monetary Fund or a new research report from the OECD, I invariably groan.

    The truth is that these international organisations have had their day, particularly the OECD since it basically does nothing save for issuing highly dubious but always politically correct recommendations that are widely ignored. These days green, gender and inclusive are the hallmarks of all OECD output.

  35. JohnJJJ says:

    Had President Trump followed this advice, he would have eliminated most of the swamp creatures instantly, frightened the remainder into impotency, and would have had time to enact his reforms
    Seems Pres. Trump had the innocence that comes with business i.e. wheeling and dealing for mutual benefit, profit, straight forward, negotiated contracts. Completely foreign to the real politics of bureaucracy i.e. build kingdoms, hidden favours, implied threats, ambiguity and treachery.

  36. Tim Neilson says:

    Peter Costello had a very easy run. No major financial crisis and rivers of resources gold.

    The “Asian crisis” of 1997?
    The dot com collapse of 2000/2001?

    The first in particular was potentially extremely damaging for Australia. Howard and Costello’s “Asia first, not Asia only” policy was proved to be prescient. Just because we got through that pretty well, but didn’t get through the GFC very well under Goose Swansteen’s mismanagement, is no reason to conclude that Swansteen was dealt a worse hand than Costello. On the contrary, Swansteen inherited the Howard/Costello net surplus, whereas Costello had inherited the Keating debt load.

  37. Rex Anger says:

    Careful Tim,

    Our balanced observer will shortly call up to tell you that you are wrong with a R-O-N-G, because you did not recognise his superior reasoning and Narrative.

    I said more or less the same yesterday (about GFC surplus and inept Treasurer) on the Stimulus thread, and got an earful of obfuscation and copious arm-flapping in return…

  38. mh says:

    Australia is seen as being particularly bullied by China, so I wonder if the Brisbane Olympics and the OECD vote are anti-China votes.

    Just stop at Cormann.
    The Brisbane Olympics?
    Noooooo….

  39. Tim Neilson says:

    Rex Anger says:
    March 14, 2021 at 9:42 pm

    Ah, but Swansteen announced no fewer than six planned Budget surpluses, so he must have been as good a Treasurer as Costello.
    You KNOW it makes sense!

  40. Tel says:

    The Brisbane Olympics?
    Noooooo….

    I dunno, there’s no rational reason why selling badly built apartments off the plan shouldn’t be an Olympic sport … it’s more popular than synchronized swimming and you would see teams coming from just about everywhere to win that one.

  41. Rex Anger says:

    Ah, but Swansteen announced no fewer than six planned Budget surpluses, so he must have been as good a Treasurer as Costello.
    You KNOW it makes sense!

    Yeah. I rolled my eyes so hard at each proclamation, my insurer now twitches violently every time some member of the Elite makes a clever proclamation…

  42. Neil says:

    Peter Costello was Treasurer during the golden years of the mining boom. Hard to stuff the job up at a time like that.

    That comment is garbage.

    Howard/Costello were running surplus budgets within 12 months of winning govt in 1996. Mining boom did not start until 2004 but exploded from 2008-2013. Commodity prices are still higher than anytime under Howard

    https://www.rba.gov.au/chart-pack/commodity-prices.html

  43. richardf says:

    Taxpayers footed the bill for his campaigning (millions). Yet even his salary will be tax exempt. Another win, losers;-)

Comments are closed.