SAUL ESLAKE

Economist

SAUL ESLAKE

Economist

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

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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’.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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To view these articles listed in reverse chronological order click here.

COMING UP

Upcoming Public Events and Appearances


2019

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SPEAKING

Excerpts from some recent presentations


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 an 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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LINKS

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