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  • P D Jonson

Sunday Sanity Break, 22 December 2019 --- Economy struggling

Updated: May 1, 2020

The dreadful fires are costing lives, houses, stock and trees, By next winter we need a plan. In my view, it should include firebreaks, burning excess scrub, building dams and increasing penalties for arson.

Economy at 'gentle turning point' is Philip Lowe's judgment. I really hope so because although we are expected to infer 'gentle turn upward' what if the real state of affairs is a gentle turn downward? Surveys say business is in a blue funk and households may be feeling better but, if it's a spendathon, business will win any race to the bottom.

Cash interest rates are at a record lows and former Treasurer and current head of the Future Fund Peter Costello has been saying for a while now that such low levels are doing no good and may be spooking the punters. In any case, record low cash rates means retirees are doing it hard, while holders of shares are making hay while the sun shines.

There is a more technical point. Recent research shows that in the UK 'monetary disequilibrium' (currently large pools of excess money) has a far larger effect on share prices than on goods inflation. This should alarm central banks, who currently focus on goods inflation - where they worry at how low goods inflation is - and have no agreed way to deal with asset inflation. Together with positively strong 'Animal Spirits' it is no wonder share markets are hitting new records.

Also, in Australia, real estate salesmen say the recovery of house prices is very strong. Philip Lowe should be doubly concerned. As a graduate student he said if asset inflation was strong central banks should raise interest rates. During Australia's housing boom, he failed to do that. Then when housing prices fell he immediately cut cash rates. Now cash interest rates are close to zero, there is no sign of rate rises.

This is not a puzzle wrapped in an barrel of, it is just plain confusion and mistake.

My research shows that Strong Animal spirits and powerful Monetary disequilibrium are likely to keep asset inflation fuelled for some time. In the USA economy, share inflation has set new records. We remind readers that the higher the share prices go, and the longer the boom continues, the bigger will be the downturn. My hypothesis is that 'events happen' so Animal spirits could turn down soon. Or key investors could just say 'It's Time' (for a correction) and there will be a rush for the exits.

Sporting life

Apart from a test match starting Boxing Day, and various 'Big Bashes' the main sporting news is the Rugby Union Chief's apology to Israel and Mrs Falou for his sacking and the $3 million payout, and Israel is now available to go elsewhere to practice his trade. Surely the big chief must now be freed to practice her trade? Short of a return to Australian Rugby, after the big chief's departure, we shall miss you Israel and wish you well.

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