I’ve got big news: from around 8 January next year, you’re going to be seeing a LOT more content on these pages. Why? Because I’m leaving Treasury and will be working as an independent economist full-time. At this stage I don’t know exactly how many posts I’ll write each week, but it’ll probably be in the vicinity of 3-5, depending on what’s going on in the world.
When COVID-19 struck, the Australian government – along with just about every government around the world – unleashed unprecedented support for workers who were at risk of losing their jobs due to the various health-related restrictions on business activity. One of the talismans of the Scott Morrison/Josh Frydenberg government’s response was JobKeeper, a scheme formulated by Treasury’s Jenny Wilkinson, for which she was later awarded a Public Service Medal.
Australia has a long and successful history of immigration. Migrants contribute economically, help fill labour shortages, improve the country’s demographics and provide important cultural diversity. But as countries like Sweden have learned, migration can also present significant challenges. For example, last week independent economist Chris Richardson claimed that “we’re doing truly generational damage in housing”, in part because:
Whether immigrants fuel inflation is a complicated question, in part because there’s no single, uniform “immigrant”. Immigrants can be students, skilled workers, entire families, refugees, retirees, or backpackers. Their ages also vary, as do their consumption, savings, and working patterns. Each of those features, and how they all come together in aggregate, will affect the role immigration plays on supply, demand and ultimately, prices.
Ah, the age-old question: does money buy you happiness? The general consensus is yes – to an extent. For example, surely the happiness a person gets from their billionth dollar is less than what they derived from their first dollar? Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton (2010) formalised this idea using a survey of more than 450,000 responses from 1,000 people, concluding that: