SAUL ESLAKE

Economist

SAUL ESLAKE

‘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.

ECONOMIC CHART PACK


Beginning in June 2020, Saul began publishing the Coronavirus Impact Chart Pack, a weekly publication tracking the course of Covid-19 and its impact on economies around the world, including Australia and New Zealand. Starting at just under 60 pages, by the second half of 2021 it had grown to more than 150 pages.

From the beginning of this year, 2022, the Chart Pack has been replaced with three separate publications:

Each of these chart packs will continue to trace the impact of the virus (for as long as that’s relevant), economic data, developments in monetary and fiscal policy, trends in financial markets, and (where relevant) political developments. They will be accessible to subscribers of the Premium Access package.

The World Economy chart pack will have sections covering the global economy, and the economies of major regions – including the United States, Europe, China, Japan, other East Asian countries, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (very briefly), Latin America and Central & Eastern Europe.


"I see a lot of chart packs in my line of work, but yours is about the best I have seen. It is amazingly comprehensive, covering far more of the world than any individual is entitled to cover, the charts are clear and easy to understand and they drill down into each topic in a very satisfying way. So well done, Saul."

Alan Kohler, ABC finance presenter, founder of Eureka Report


"A timely and comprehensive summary from one of Australia's best economists."

Adam Creighton, Economics Editor for The Australian


“I continue to find your thinking invaluable - this year to my ritual weekend reading of the economist I have happily added ‘Saul’s latest’.”

Rufus Black, former Managing Partner of McKinsey’s, and currently Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania


“Your chart pack is amazing - and thanks for offering to add me to the mailing list, that would be great to be included. Everything you could want to know is there - and the way the data are organised and presented to tell the stories makes it so easy to follow.”

Prof Jeff Borland, Truby Williams Professor of Economics, The University of Melbourne, Website


“An excellent summary. Although I take a great interest in what’s happening with COVID-19 day by day In Australia and Internationally, I always find your weekly summary a very interesting review of the past week.”

retired former Chief Executive Officer of a District Hospital Service in New South Wales


THE WORLD ECONOMY THIS WEEK
23rd May 2022



This chart pack, published on Monday morning (Eastern Australian time) each week, portrays developments in the global economy and in the economies of major nations and regions – the United States, Europe, China, Japan, other East Asian economies, India, Canada, Australia & New Zealand*, Latin America and Central & Eastern Europe – with particular emphasis on:

  • the impact of Covid-19,
  • economic growth,
  • labour markets,
  • international trade and payments,
  • inflation,
  • fiscal and monetary policy,
  • bond, currency and stock markets, and
  • where relevant, political developments

The pack typically runs to 110-120 pages and includes more than 570 individual charts as well as tables and text.

* for more detailed coverage of Australia and New Zealand please see The Australian Economy this Week and The New Zealand Economy this Month, respectively.

THE WORLD ECONOMY THIS WEEK 2022-05-23

THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY THIS WEEK
27th May 2022



This chart pack, published on Friday evening (Eastern Australian time) each week, portrays developments in the Australian economy, with particular emphasis on:

  • the impact of Covid-19,
  • broad indicators of economic growth,
  • conditions in the business sector
  • the household sector, and consumer spending
  • housing finance and construction. and the residential property market
  • the labour market
  • commodity prices, trade and the balance of payments
  • inflation,
  • fiscal and monetary policy,
  • Australian financial markets

Closer to this year’s federal elections – which have to be held no later than 29th May – we will include some pages on political developments as well.

The pack typically runs to 80-90 pages and includes some 280 charts.

For coverage of the global economy, please see The World Economy this Week

THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY THIS WEEK 2022-05-27

EVENTS

Saul Eslake online presentation


“You are the best economic thinker in the country hands down”

Sheryle Bagwell, recently retired Senior Business Correspondent (and sometime Executive Producer),
ABC Radio National Breakfast


“Just want to congratulate you Saul on the unbelievably good set of slides you just presented, possibly the best I have ever seen. You have set the bar very high.”

Dr Joe Flood, Adjunct Fellow, RMIT University, Pandemicia


“Thank you very much for your excellent presentation for the Economic Society today. It is always a great pleasure to hear your eloquent, up-to-date and comprehensive talks.”

Andrew Trembath, economist, Victorian and Australian Government agencies


online events @ saul-eslake.com



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WHAT'S NEW

Most Recent Articles, Talks and Presentations


The World Economy this Week 2022-05-23

The World Economy This Week | 23rd May 2022

The Australian Economy this Week 2022-05-27

The Australian Economy This Week | 27th May 2022

The 2022-23 Tasmanian State Budget
Tasmania
26th May 2022


A new dawn over stormy seas
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Publications, The Australian Economy
23rd May 2022


Who is a better economic manager?
Australian Society and Politics, News, Recent Media Interview, The Australian Economy
21st May 2022


Monash University Indonesia and XSPI webinar
Asian Economies, The Australian Economy
17th May 2022


The Morrison Government’s “Super for Housing” (with Joe O’Brien)
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Housing, News, Recent Media Interview
16th May 2022


The Morrison Government’s “Super for Housing” (with Peter Ryan)
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Housing, News, Recent Media Interview
16th May 2022


Tasmania Talks 16 May 2022
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Housing, News, Recent Media Interview, Tasmania
16th May 2022


Why Reserve Bank needs to raise rates next week
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Economic Video, News, The Australian Economy
28th April 2022


“Why ‘less’ could be more when it comes to solving housing affordability crisis” – interview with Melbourne radio 3AW’s Tom Elliott
Australian Society and Politics, Housing, News
22nd April 2022


Who are the ‘better managers’ of Australia’s economy?
Australian Society and Politics, Economic Policies, Publications, The Australian Economy
21st April 2022


60 years of housing policy failure
Australian Society and Politics, Housing, News, Recent Media Interview
18th April 2022


Jobs in Depth with SBS’ Ricardo Gonçalves
News, Recent Media Interview, The Australian Economy
15th April 2022


VIDEO

Recent Presentations


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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

“Saul Eslake is … a highly regarded independent economist with the highest degree of integrity"
John Durie, Columnist, The Australian, July 2009

“… one of the few people in this world who can have so many oranges up in the air at the same time but still manage to catch them"
Andrew Clark, journalist, Australian Financial Review, November 2008

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