SAUL ESLAKE

Economist

SAUL ESLAKE

Economist

‘Welcome to my website …
I’m an independent economist, company director
and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Tasmania’
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Topics

Articles, Talks and Presentations


The Arts

Maynard Keynes – arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century – once wrote that “the civilizing arts … in fact use up an infinitesimal quantity of materials in relation to their importance in the national life and the comfort they can give to the individual spirit”. I was fortunate to have been Chair of the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board from 2006 until 2011, and also briefly on the Australian Business Arts Foundation Board; currently the Chair of Ten Days on the Island, Tasmania’s bi-ennial statewide multi-arts festival.

The Arts, Economists and the Economy
Tasmania, The Arts | 4th November 2016

The Resources Boom and its Legacy
The Arts | 9th June 2011

‘Renaissance Man’: Keynes, Contemporary Economic Problems and the Arts
The Arts | 11th June 2009

Philanthropy and the Arts
Publications, The Arts | 30th June 2007

Asian Economies

Asia accounts for 52% of the world’s population and (as of 2013) 34% of the world’s GDP. By the end of the decade Asia will account for 39% of the world’s GDP. Asia already takes more than 75% of Australia’s merchandise exports. You simply can’t understand Australia’s long-term economic prospects without a good understanding of what’s happening in the major Asian economies.

Asia excluding China and Japan
Asian Economies | 6th July 2016

India’s Economic Development and the Australia-India Relationship
Asian Economies | 4th April 2013

Outlook for Asian economies
Asian Economies | 1st July 2009

China and the New Economic Order
Asian Economies | 17th June 2009

Outlook for Asian economies
Asian Economies | 4th July 2007

Patterns in Investment Flows
Asian Economies | 12th December 2006

China and India in the World Economy
Asian Economies | 7th July 2005

Progress in Korean Economic Reform
Asian Economies | 1st May 2000

Japan’s Economic Challenge and the Implications for Australia
Asian Economies | 11th August 1998

The Australian Economy

Monitoring, analysing and trying to predict, trends in the Australian economy has been a major element of my ‘day jobs’ as an economist since I left University in 1979.

Key issues for the global and Australian economies in 2017
The Australian Economy, The Global Economy | 7th February 2017

The Importance of productivity as a driver of the Victorian economy
Productivity, The Australian Economy | 24th November 2016

A Country Executive Guide to the Australian and New Zealand Economies
The Australian Economy | 15th November 2016

Future Economic Challenges for Australia and the Construction Sector
The Australian Economy | 27th October 2016

The Future of the Australian Economy
The Australian Economy | 12th October 2016

The Economy – Challenges and Opportunities
The Australian Economy | 31st August 2016

An Economic Update
The Australian Economy | 29th August 2016

The Tourism Economy
The Australian Economy | 23rd August 2016

The Australian resources boom and its aftermath – Review of ‘Balancing Act’ by George Megalogenis
Economic Policies, Publications, The Australian Economy | 15th June 2016

The Changing Structure of Economic Activity and Employment in Queensland
The Australian Economy | 26th April 2016

Australia’s Economic Horizon
The Australian Economy | 1st March 2016

Disruptive Economic Forces
The Australian Economy | 6th November 2015

An Australian Recession: Possible, but not Probable
The Australian Economy | 19th August 2015

The future of manufacturing isn’t in a return to the past
The Australian Economy | 15th August 2015

The ‘Asian Century’ – Implications for Australia and for Melbourne
Australian Society and Politics, The Australian Economy | 26th October 2012

The Global Financial Crisis and its Impact on the Australian Economy
The Australian Economy | 3rd June 2009

Australia and Britain – How the China-Driven Commodities Boom is Causing Their Economic Cycles to Diverge
The Australian Economy | 26th September 2007

Financial implications of an ageing population
The Australian Economy | 25th May 2007

The Australian Economy
The Australian Economy | 15th January 2007

Australian Society and Politics

You can’t think (or write, or speak) about an economy without also having a sense of the broader social and economic framework in which it operates. I try very hard to avoid partisan political commentary, but I do sometimes feel moved to write or talk about social or political developments.

Ethical Conversations – a Challenge for Boards?
Australian Society and Politics, Tasmania | 9th February 2017

Financial Inclusion, Women and the Economy
Australian Society and Politics | 25th November 2016

The Role of Audit Commissions
Australian Society and Politics | 3rd February 2014

The Meaning of ‘Thank you for your patience’­
Australian Society and Politics, Publications | 18th June 2013

The ‘Asian Century’ – Implications for Australia and for Melbourne
Australian Society and Politics, The Australian Economy | 26th October 2012

Distribution Matters
Australian Society and Politics | 29th October 2011

There’s more to life – and sport – than Olympic Gold medals
Australian Society and Politics, Publications | 26th November 2009

New Fiscal Possibilities
Australian Society and Politics | 12th September 2008

Three Seemingly Unrelated Propositions Concerning Australia’s Identity and Economic Performance
Australian Society and Politics | 6th September 2005

On the importance which Australians attach to sport
Australian Society and Politics, Publications | 18th March 2001

Commodities

Commodities – agricultural products, minerals, metals and energy – are far more important to Australia than they are to most other ‘advanced’ economies. The direction of commodity prices is a key influence on the Australian economy, and (usually) on the Australian dollar.

The Asian Century, Minerals & Energy and the Australian Economy
Commodities | 10th November 2015

The ‘Shale Revolution’
Commodities | 17th July 2013

Commodity Prices
Commodities | 23rd June 2011

Economic Policies

The Nobel Prize winning economist James Tobin once said that the study of economics “ offered the hope, as it still does, that improved understanding could better the lot of mankind”. One of the ways in which it does this is through the implementation of economic policy that helps to ameliorate boom-and-bust cycles, reduces unemployment, contains inflation or lifts people’s living standards in sustainable ways.

Fixing Australia’s budget deficit – analysis of Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison’s “Bloomberg Address”
Economic Policies, Publications | 25th August 2016

The Australian resources boom and its aftermath – Review of ‘Balancing Act’ by George Megalogenis
Economic Policies, Publications, The Australian Economy | 15th June 2016

Lower inflation targets aren’t a good idea
Economic Policies, Publications | 17th May 2016

Reflections on the 2016-17 Federal Budget
Economic Policies, Publications | 5th May 2016

Infrastructure investment
Economic Policies | 14th August 2015

Economic policy, Australia’s economic performance and this year’s Federal Budget
Economic Policies | 25th May 2015

The ‘right’ way to return the Budget to surplus
Economic Policies | 15th March 2014

A wide-ranging conversation on economic policy, housing policy, taxation reform, security and being an economist
Economic Policies, News, Profile | 13th August 2013

Productivity and inclusive growth
Economic Policies, Productivity | 1st July 2013

I’m not a protectionist, but … 
Economic Policies | 31st August 2011

Transparency in Trade Policy
Economic Policies | 13th July 2011

Yes, we could have bananas … 
Economic Policies, Publications | 14th February 2011

Debate about banks’ lending rates misses the point
Economic Policies, Publications | 3rd November 2010

Higher inflation targets would not be a good idea
Economic Policies, Publications | 25th February 2010

Labour Market Flexibility and Australia’s Experience of the Global Financial Crisis
Economic Policies, Labour Market | 15th November 2009

After the Crisis: What are the Social Policy Challenges?
Economic Policies | 5th November 2009

Inappropriately low interest rates are as dangerous as inappropriately high ones
Economic Policies, Publications | 17th September 2009

Anticipating Crises in Markets and Government
Economic Policies | 3rd September 2009

The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 – 09 : An Australian Perspective
Economic Policies | 19th August 2009

The Rudd Government’s Fiscal Stimulus Proposals
Economic Policies | 19th February 2009

Reserve Bank independence and all that
Economic Policies | 30th June 2008

Competition, Productivity, Economic Growth and Living Standards
Economic Policies, Productivity | 3rd February 2005

Economics and Economists

The American actor Will Rogers once said (in 1932) that “an economist’s guess is liable to be as good as anybody else’s” (for more jokes about economists, see http://netec.mcc.ac.uk/JokEc.html). More seriously, Paul Krugman (a Nobel Prize winning economist who these days is probably better known for his acerbic columns in the New York Times) wrote, “Economists may make lots of bad predictions, but they do have a method – a systematic way of thinking about the world that is more true than not, that gives them genuine if imperfect expertise. That is also, of course, why lay commentators and other social scientists tend to hate them” (http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/Serfdom.htm). Some of my thoughts about my profession and its practitioners are here.

Choices, Luck and Forecasting
Economics and Economists | 18th May 2015

Forecasting is more than just luck
Economics and Economists | 15th November 2014

Reflections on and lessons from a career as an economist
Economics and Economists, Publications | 10th November 2013

On the Role of Economists, and Leaving Tasmania
Economics and Economists, Tasmania | 16th December 2012

Reflections on climate change, and the quality of Australian economists
Economics and Economists, Publications | 6th July 2011

‘Commuting the Death Sentence’: The Role of Editors in the Australian Economy
Economics and Economists | 11th May 2007

The Importance of Accurate, Reliable and Timely Data
Economics and Economists | 19th May 2006

Education

I have an abiding belief in education as an ‘enabler’, not only of improvements in individual, community and national living standards, but as essential to developing an informed and engaged citizenry, and in promoting peace and understanding between the people of different nations.

Submission to the Review of Years 9-12 Education in Tasmania
Education, Tasmania | 26th September 2016

Education and the Tasmanian Economy
Education, Tasmania | 30th April 2015

Education, Innovation and Australia’s Economic Future
Education | 14th April 2008

Human Capital and Tasmania’s Economic Future
Education, Tasmania | 24th August 2005

Education and the Economy
Education | 15th September 2003

Address to the Education Foundation’s ‘Awards in Education’
Education | 19th November 1997

The Global Economy

The global financial system is a bit like a country’s electricity grid. Most people don’t notice it’s there – unless for some reason it stops working – as the global financial system very nearly did in late 2008.

Key issues for the global and Australian economies in 2017
The Australian Economy, The Global Economy | 7th February 2017

Ten Things to Watch in 2017
Publications, The Global Economy | 24th January 2017

Market reaction to Donald Trump’s apparent victory in US Presidential election
The Global Economy | 9th November 2016

The Economic Consequences of Mr Trump Presentation
The Global Economy | 2nd November 2016

The Economic Consequences of Mr Trump Article
Publications, The Global Economy | 26th October 2016

The World Today – a Global Macro-economic Perspective
The Global Economy | 15th September 2016

The New World of Economic Disruptors – from Brexit to Trump
The Global Economy | 16th August 2016

Is the World Economy Facing ‘Secular Stagnation’?
The Global Economy | 16th June 2014

Germany’s economic and political generals are fighting the wrong war
Publications, The Global Economy | 25th November 2011

Europeans and Americans don’t run the world economy any more, and shouldn’t automatically run the IMF
Publications, The Global Economy | 24th May 2011

Is the US Dollar in Danger of Losing its Reserve Currency Status?
The Global Economy | 3rd July 2009

The difference between a recession and a depression
The Global Economy | 23rd November 2008

The Emergence of Oil Producers as Net International Creditors – Possible Implications for the Global Financial System.
The Global Economy | 22nd June 2006

Globalization

‘Globalization’ – the increasing integration of different countries through the movement of goods and services, capital and people – can be a powerful force for improving people’s living standards and expanding the ranges of choices open to them. But it can also be disruptive – and many people are opposed to it for ideological reasons. I gave a series of talks on the topic in the early 2000s which are reproduced here.

New Threats to Globalization
Globalization | 12th April 2007

Globalization: Keeping the Gains
Globalization | 17th August 2003

The Gains and Losses from Globalization
Globalization | 13th August 2003

Globalization, Economic Policy and Democracy
Globalization, Publications | 3rd August 2001

The Drivers of Globalization
Globalization | 20th November 2000

Globalization – Unprecendented? Inevitable? Irreversible? Beneficial?
Globalization | 30th August 2000

Housing

Housing is one of the most important things in people’s lives, whether they own the dwelling in which they live, or rent it – and if they own other property as an investment. And as we saw in the lead-up to, and during, the global financial crisis, what happens in housing markets can be enormously important to the stability of the financial system, and to the health or otherwise of the economy.

Interview with ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly on Housing affordability
Housing, News | 27th October 2016

The case for reducing the capital gain tax discount
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 7th June 2016

The housing affordability trap • Inside Story
Housing, Publications | 12th May 2016

A Bi-Partisan Agenda for Affordable Housing
Housing | 8th April 2016

Negative gearing simply a form of ‘tax avoidance’
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 31st March 2016

Labor’s negative gearing aims echo Coalition housing changes
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 23rd March 2016

Housing affordability, home ownership and housing policy
Housing | 6th August 2015

Australian Housing Policy: 50 Years of Failure
Housing | 21st December 2013

Housing dream becomes a housing nightmare
Housing | 15th May 2013

Billions of dollars wasted on First Home Owner grants
Housing, Publications | 16th March 2011

What If – Governments Stopped Subsidizing Home Buyers
Housing, Publications | 30th June 2010

Is the Australian property market in ‘bubble trouble’?
Housing | 14th November 2003

Labour Market

The labour market is arguably the most important market in any economy. It is where people find jobs and where businesses find workers. It is where most people’s pre-tax incomes are determined. And it is a primary focus of economic policy. It is also, of course, much more than simply ‘a market’.

Productivity
Labour Market, Productivity | 24th May 2012

Labour Market Flexibility and Australia’s Experience of the Global Financial Crisis
Economic Policies, Labour Market | 15th November 2009

Workplace Relations Reform: Examining the Economic Data
Labour Market | 25th October 2005

Productivity

As Paul Krugman famously said, “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run, it’s nearly everything”. I spent half of the interval between leaving ANZ in July 2009 and starting at Bank of America Merrill Lynch research and writing about productivity growth for the Grattan Institute.

Five Potential Impediments to Improving Australia’s Productivity Performance
Productivity | 13th December 2016

The Importance of productivity as a driver of the Victorian economy
Productivity, The Australian Economy | 24th November 2016

Productivity and inclusive growth
Economic Policies, Productivity | 1st July 2013

Productivity
Labour Market, Productivity | 24th May 2012

Australia’s Productivity Performance
Productivity, Publications | 18th February 2012

What can be done to improve Australia’s productivity performance
Productivity, Publications | 8th September 2011

Productivity: The Lost Decade
Productivity | 15th August 2011

Australia’s Productivity Challenge
Productivity | 19th February 2011

Whatever happened to the productivity revolution?
Productivity, Security | 10th January 2007

Competition, Productivity, Economic Growth and Living Standards
Economic Policies, Productivity | 3rd February 2005

Security

Security For a long time I have been deeply troubled by many of the things that governments have done since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Many of those actions have eroded the civil liberties that previous generations fought tenaciously to acquire, or to defend; while others have simply wasted enormous amounts of time and money for very little improvement in people’s safety, and have instead helped to create a climate of fear. While I know these views are not widely shared, I nonetheless hold them strongly, as some of these pieces make clear.

Why can’t Australia & New Zealand have a down-under ‘Schengen Agreement’?
Security | 15th April 2013

Security theatre in the UK
Publications, Security | 13th February 2013

The best way to push bad policy is to wrap it in a ‘security’ blanket
Security | 9th November 2011

The folly of trying to eliminate all risk through regulation and legislation
Security | 27th April 2011

Time to question the point, and cost, of airport security rituals
Security | 16th February 2011

Whatever happened to the productivity revolution?
Productivity, Security | 10th January 2007

Tasmania

I wasn’t born in Tasmania, but I grew up there and retain a very strong sense of belonging to it. Tasmania has been struggling economically for a long time, and the pieces here represent some of my efforts to advocate for policies which, in my opinion, would result in a stronger Tasmanian economy and improved living standards for Tasmanians.

The 2016 ‘Tasmania Report’ – Where to from here?
Tasmania | 17th February 2017

Ethical Conversations – a Challenge for Boards?
Australian Society and Politics, Tasmania | 9th February 2017

The 2016 TCCI Tasmania Report
Tasmania | 14th December 2016

Tasmania: State of Opportunity
Tasmania | 8th November 2016

The Arts, Economists and the Economy
Tasmania, The Arts | 4th November 2016

Tasmania’s three Ps a logical place to start
News, Tasmania | 19th October 2016

Submission to the Review of Years 9-12 Education in Tasmania
Education, Tasmania | 26th September 2016

The Tasmanian Economy – Opportunities and Challenges
Tasmania | 17th June 2016

The ‘Tasmania Report’
Tasmania | 12th December 2015

The Tasmanian Economy and 2015 – 2016 State Budget
Tasmania | 25th June 2015

Education and the Tasmanian Economy
Education, Tasmania | 30th April 2015

On the Role of Economists, and Leaving Tasmania
Economics and Economists, Tasmania | 16th December 2012

Pulp mill mistakes mustn’t be repeated in the Tarkine
Publications, Tasmania | 4th September 2012

Just don’t call them “Leavers’ Dinners” – please
Tasmania | 8th November 2011

Spending on schools is part of Tasmania’s budgetary problem, and has to be part of the solution
Tasmania | 12th July 2011

Why Tasmania should have its own AFL team
Publications, Tasmania | 11th October 2008

Productivity, Prosperity and Tasmanian Living Standards
Tasmania | 26th February 2007

Tasmania’s Economy: Lots of Progress but lots still to do
Tasmania | 8th December 2006

Poverty in Tasmania: An Economist’s Perspective
Tasmania | 19th October 2005

Human Capital and Tasmania’s Economic Future
Education, Tasmania | 24th August 2005

The Nixon Report – What’s Next
Tasmania | 25th August 1997

ANZ’s submission to the Commonwealth-State Inquiry into the Tasmanian Economy (the Nixon Inquiry)
Tasmania | 15th February 1997

Taxation

Taxation is an important part of economic policy – not only in raising revenue for governments to spend, but also in influencing private saving, investment and spending decisions, and for affecting the distribution of income and wealth. Decisions as to what is (or isn’t taxed), and at what rate, are always controversial, and sometimes have unintended consequences.

The case for reducing the capital gain tax discount
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 7th June 2016

Negative gearing simply a form of ‘tax avoidance’
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 31st March 2016

Labor’s negative gearing aims echo Coalition housing changes
Housing, Publications, Taxation | 23rd March 2016

Negative gearing proponents’ claims don’t stack up
Publications, Taxation | 15th March 2016

The case against negative gearing
Publications, Taxation | 18th February 2016

Reforming the Australian Taxation System: A Principled Approach
Taxation | 22nd September 2015

Small businesses aren’t really the ‘engine room’ of the economy, and don’t deserve preferential tax treatment
Taxation | 15th August 2015

Reflections on the October 2011 Tax Forum
Taxation | 12th October 2011

Australia’s Tax Reform Challenge
Taxation | 21st September 2011

The case against negative gearing …
Publications, Taxation | 25th April 2011

A tax system that penalizes working & saving, and rewards borrowing & speculating
Publications, Taxation | 30th March 2011

Observations on the proposed temporary tax levy to pay for repairs and reconstruction after the 2011 Queensland floods
Taxation | 11th March 2011

COMING UP

Upcoming Events and Appearances


Mar

16th

John West Memorial Lecture
Hosted by the Launceston Historical Society

Raymond Ferrall Centre, University of Tasmania Newnham Campus
8pm

TESTIMONIALS

What Others Say


“You are one of the best at what you do in the world”
Gail Fosler, Chief Economist, The Conference Board, New York, December 2002

“I have never known and economist to have such a knowledge of world economic facts and to be able to bring to bear so much information in answering a question without notice”
Charles Goode, Chairman, ANZ Bank, July 2009

“An outstanding presentation that was lucid, logical and blended hard facts with humour. And Saul comfortably communicated to meet the wide range of ages, occupations and knowledge of our guests”
Anthony Starkins, Executive Director, First Samuel Ltd, August 2016


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