Australia: a prosperous but finely-balanced economy

Good thing we’re more tolerant of nuance than our ANZUS friends:

A beleagured John Howard has seized on “stunning” economic figures to implore voters not to put Australia’s prosperity in the hands of the Labor Party.

As economists warned that the booming economy – which grew at 4.3 per cent for the year ending June – made an interest rate rise in early November likely, Mr Howard yesterday pinned his fortunes on persuading voters before election day that they had a brighter future under the Coalition.

I’ve complained about this before, apropos stupid reporting, but: if John Howard is so well-met by the econonomy that can only bloom under him, why in hell are the economic figures stunning? It is, simply, a logical fallacy that really ought to be bleeding obvious, at least to any tit writing for a newspaper. But I digress. The quote:

“I hope by the time they pass judgment I will have convinced them that it is too risky to hand over their prosperous but finely-balanced economy to an inexperienced Labor team dominated by union bosses.”

Like Costello before him, the Prime Minister is attempting to convince us that the economy is so good it will blow us off the face of the earth if we make one wrong move. I honestly don’t see the appeal of his argument. I also just can’t understand how they insist they can get around this:

The dual prospects of a rate rise and high inflation figures increase the risks for Mr Howard should he choose to call to election for any date later than October 20.

He would not be drawn on election dates yesterday, only that it would be held before the end of the year.

Neither would Mr Howard entertain the prospect of another rate rise, which would be the sixth in a row since the 2004 election, in which he promised to keep them low. “I’m just looking at the positive side of these figures,” he said.

“This election is not about the past. This election is about the future. This election is about which side of politics can better guarantee and expand the prosperity for the Australian people generally.”

The Treasurer, Peter Costello, concurred. “I wouldn’t be risking my mortgage, my job, my future on that team, ” he said of Labor.

Economy goes up, so does inflation and interest rates. It isn’t hard to understand, and trying it on the Australian people for a second time is surely insulting our intelligence. That it’s near election-time explains away, entirely, both parties using some random, 1-to-3-month figure for almost anything as proof that the last 10 years (or next 3 years) of government by one party or another will be good or bad (in this case productivity, economic growth, etc.). Irrespective of how much credit the government can, in fact, take for such things (are we to thank John Howard for the commodities boom? Does China know he should get the credit for their economic growth also?).

Meanwhile, although it is supposed to be my culture and heritage, I could use a translation of just what in hell this was supposed to mean:

For months Labor has been attacking the Government for failing to lift productivity – output per worker – but yesterday’s figures showed it had increased by 3 per cent in the June quarter.

Mr Howard said this demolished Labor’s argument that the Government was relying solely on the mining boom.

“This is meant to be in the words of the Labor Party almost a spiv economy,” he said.

The Prime Minister likened the finely balanced economy to a cricketer who had just reached a double century.

“The gap between bat and pads is now wider and his cover drives are just as immaculate.”

The spiv reference is to suggest that Labor’s characterisation of there being no substance to our economic growth is false. Which of course mischaracterises Labor’s argument, but hey: it’s an election year. At least we don’t have to hear about Kevin Rudd’s hair-cut, or how French he is. It could be worse, you know.

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