The Kouk's top 40 hits and misses

more Over the summer break, while fiddling through data bases, reading and just being interested in things, I unearthed a few quirky bits and pieces about the Australian economy, people, sport

The Kouk's Outlook

more If you need a reliable, accurate, thought provoking and informed economic forecasting at both local and international levels, look no further. Informed by Stephen's exceptionally broad experience and background, his

Economist

more Stephen Koukoulas has a rare and specialised professional experience over more than 25 years as an economist in Treasury, as Global Head of economic and market research, a Chief Economist
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THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

My 2016 forecasts: A stocktake on how they are going

Sun, 24 Jul 2016

A little over six months into the year, I am doing what almost no other economist does and present a scorecard on my forecasts for 2016. The record is mixed – some big wins, some big errors.

On 1 January 2016, I had my Top 11 tips for the year for economics, politics and markets. Those forecasts are reproduced below, with my assessment of how those forecasts are travelling in bold.

1. Real GDP growth in Australia will accelerate to around 3.25 per cent, driven by strong exports, solid growth in household spending, a further lift in dwelling construction and a meaty contribution from public sector demand. Business investment will remain horribly weak, but even that might find a base during the course of the year. There seems precious little chance that GDP growth will slip below 2 per cent at any stage in 2016. [This forecast is looking quite good although there are some headwinds for GDP in the second half of the year. A reasonably good forecast.]

Infrastructure spending should be based on need, not cheap money

Sun, 24 Jul 2016

This article first appeared on The Guardian web site at this address: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/22/infrastructure-spending-should-be-based-on-need-not-cheap-money?CMP=share_btn_tw 

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Infrastructure spending should be based on need, not cheap money

As Australian government bond yields fall to record lows, debate is hotting up over whether the government should take advantage of these low borrowing costs to increase infrastructure spending.

Such ideas are based on a nice sentiment, but fall short of sound criteria for big spending. If infrastructure is needed, if it is an essential element for aiding productivity and equity, then it should be done based on a proper cost-benefit analysis regardless of the borrowing costs.

It would be absurd to think that infrastructure spending on power generation, roads, rail and ports would not occur simply because interest rates were high. It is a similar story with low interest rates. Why borrow and build infrastructure that may not do much to boost productivity, efficiency and equity just because 10-year government bond yields are at 2%?

To see how infrastructure spending driven by low interest rates can go badly wrong, one only has to look at the experience in Japan.