Wednesday, July 28, 2021

IMF warns that vaccine "haves" and "have nots" is widening with rapid vaccine rollout critical

The International Monetary Fund is warning a rapid rollout of vaccines around the world is now critical to confront more deadly mutations of the COVID19 virus. 

While the global economic recovery remains on track and Australia's outlook has been slightly upgraded, the IMF is warning that poorer developing nations struggling to vaccinate are most vulnerable. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the IMF says rising inflation if sustained could force central banks to raise interest rates sooner than expected.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Business and workers demand more support while Treasurer resists Jobkeeper revival

The Business Council of Australia says the lockdowns in Greater Sydney, Victoria and South Australia are costing about $2.8 billion dollars a week with  the Sydney lockdown alone an estimated $257million dollars a day. 

Chief executive Jennifer Westacott says "tweaks" are required to the current commonwealth and state support. 

But Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour says a return of Jobkeeper is now critical to reduce anxiety.

Here's my report from The World Today

Monday, July 26, 2021

Josh Frydenberg rejects calls to reinstate Jobkeeper as Sydney lockdown threatens double dip recession

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has once again rejected calls for the return of JobKeeper wage support given the deepening lockdown crisis in greater Sydney. 

Mr Frydenberg maintains the current emergency measures are sufficient. 

But prominent businessman Tony Shepherd says Jobkeeper is now critical for small and medium businesses crying out for help. 

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Political gridlock, institutional decay, party tribalism thwarting unpopular policy reforms, Grattan Institute warns. Monday Finance with Peter Ryan.

Throughout the pandemic, trust in both state and federal governments has been on the rise especially as emergency support measures like Jobkeeper kept the economy afloat.

But a report out this morning says that while the focus has understandably been on the economic rescue, governments are too busy focussing on popularity and remaining in office rather than tacking major policy reforms that would boost the nation's prosperity.

So where are the politically "courageous" decisions of the 80s and 90s under prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard?

I speak with Grattan Institute senior fellow John Daley on RN Breakfast.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Consumer stress rising in lockdown, NAB boss Ross McEwan tells vaccine rollout now critical to confidence and freedom

Australians are becoming more financially and mentally distressed with half the population locked down at home and worried about their futures. 

As the restrictions drag on, the National Australia Bank's consumer stress index out this morning shows households are anxious about paying their mortgage, funding retirement nest eggs while those on lower incomes are struggling just to pay the rent. 

NAB chief executive Ross McEwan tells ABC's Peter Ryan that a faster vaccination rollout is the only way to avoid more economically damaging lockdowns.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Economy to take hit as lockdowns widen, but double dip recession unlikely. I speak with Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.

The widening lockdowns and uncertainty about more in the coming weeks and months are already have a heavy impact on Australia's economic rebound.

So could the extraordinary economic recovery to date be about to run off the rails?

I speak with Westpac chief economist Bill Evans who thinks a double dip recession will be avoided.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Crown unfit to hold Melbourne casino licence, Royal Commission told

The Crown Royal Commission has been told the casino giant is not suitable to hold a licence to operate in Victoria.

In recommending that Crown's licence be revoked, counsel assisting the Royal Commission said the operators of the casino had breached public trust after evidence of money laundering facilitation and associations with criminal gangs.

Here's my report from The World Today.

Wall St dives on COVID fears; Oil Search boss Keiran Wulff exits on health concerns and following whistleblower complaint

Wall Street stocks have plunged on rising fears that a spike on COVID19 cases could derail the global economic recovery.

Also, Oil Search chief executive Keiran Wulff exiting company on ill-health and following whistleblower complaints about his management style.

Here's my report broadcast on ABC NewsRadio.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Sydney construction falls silent as COVID lockdown damages economic rebound - Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

Construction sites in greater Sydney have fallen silent as tough new measures to control spread of the highly infectious Delta variant around Australia's biggest city come into force. 

The decision is set to cost billions of dollars as the shutdown grinds to the New South Wales economy to a halt with the mental health cost also mounting.

The combined Sydney and Melbourne lockdowns are likely to put a big dent in Australia's extraordinary economic rebound to date.

On RN Breakfast, I speak with Daniel Hunter CEO of Business NSW and EY Oceania chief economist Jo Masters

I also speak with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Jobless rate dips to decade low of 4.9pc but Sydney lockdown worries weigh

Australia's official jobless rate has fallen to 4.9 percent in June, the lowest level in more than a decade. 

The ABS says almost 52,000 new full time jobs were created with employers reporting high levels of job vacancies. 

Meanwhile, economists are forecasting that the greater Sydney lockdown will carve a slice from Australia's economic rebound with a 0.7 percent contraction in September quarter GDP.  

ABC's Peter Ryan says there is an outside risk of a double dip recession from a second consecutive quarter of negative growth if the Sydney outbreak spreads to other parts of Australia.

Sydney extended lockdown likely to stall economic rebound with negative September quarter GDP on horizon

Economists are forecasting that the greater Sydney lockdown will carve a slice from Australia's economic rebound. 

Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics Gareth Aird sees third quarter GDP down 1.4 percent which means a 0.7 percent contraction. 

Mr Aird tells ABC's Peter Ryan there is an outside risk of a double dip recession from a second consecutive quarter of negative growth if the Sydney outbreak spreads to other parts of Australia.

I also speak with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Political stoush over Sydney lockdown flares between Victorian and federal governments; Commonwealth Bank predicts hit to economic growth

Recriminations have flared between Victorian and federal governments emergency support to NSW because of the Sydney lockdown. 

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank economists think Sydney lockdown will hit Q3 GDP hard (down 1.4pc), resulting in a 0.7pc contraction. 

CBA head of Australian economics Gareth Aird tells ABC's Peter Ryan the risk of a double dip recession because on the Sydney outbreak not spreading from Sydney.


Small business and consumers quickly adapt as Sydney lockdown extension looms; personal trainer Matt McConnell swaps gym for the oval

The pandemic has forced many Australian small enterprises to modify how they do their business with the greater Sydney lockdown likely to be extended by weeks. 

Personal trainer Matt McConnell has taken his customers to the local park while Airtasker chief executive Tim Fung tells ABC's Peter Ryan that consumers and businesses are adapting to meet strict stay at home orders.

Listen to the story broadcast on the ABC's AM program.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Sydney lockdown relief aid now urgent with some businesses now likely to close voluntarily

With the federal and New South Wales governments set to announce a major relief package later today, the economic cost of the greater Sydney lockdown is accelerating. 

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra says with the certainty of government support, many businesses open but currently designated as discretionary might chose to close voluntarily.

I speak with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Monday, July 12, 2021

Emergency support "imminent" for struggling Sydney businesses facing extended lockdown

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian says a deal on emergency support for Sydney businesses hit by the lockdown is "imminent" and could be announced in the coming days. 

Special support comes amid confusion about why some businesses remain open as "essential" while shoppers are order not to browse when they go out. 

COSBOA interim chief executive tells ABC's Peter Ryan that mixed messages from the NSW government are confusing businesses.

Struggling Sydney businesses plead for great lockdown support - Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

With the lockdown in greater Sydney likely to be extended beyond this week, small businesses are now relying on greater emergency support to survive. 

The federal government's Expenditure Review Committee meets today to consider financial aid while major banks have reinstated three month loan repayment deferrals for business. 

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver predicts costs will spiral to $7 billion if the Sydney lockdown is extended by a month. 

I speak with Alexi Boyd, interim chief executive of the small business lobby group COSBOA.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Reserve Bank increasingly concerned about surging house prices, watching for signs of lax lending standards

The Reserve Bank governor has signalled that financial regulators are becoming increasingly concerned about surging real estate prices in parts of Australia.

As the central bank begins to wind back its massive emergency stimulus rolled out during the COVID crisis, Philip Lowe says the RBA is "closely monitoring" the housing market while stopping short of announcing any intervention.

I spoke with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Reserve Bank holds interest rates near zero, sticks to 2024 forecast for first rate hike

 Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has laid the groundwork for winding back some of its massive emergency stimulus that's been pumped into the economy since the beginning of the COVID crisis. 

But in what will be good news for highly-leveraged borrowers who've dived into the surging real estate market, the RBA says any increase in the official cash rate probably won't be until 2024.

ABC's Peter Ryan says Dr Lowe was also optimistic the economy will quickly bounce back from recent lockdowns including the current one in Sydney.

Reserve Bank begins gentle windback of emergency stimulus, keeping rates on hold near zero

The Reserve Bank has laid the groundwork for winding back some of its massive emergency stimulus that's been pumped into the economy since the beginning of the COVID crisis.

But in what will be good news for highly-leveraged borrowers who've dived into the surging real estate market, the RBA says any increase in the official cash rate probably won't be until 2024.

There was also optimism that the economy will quickly bounce back from recent lockdowns including the current one in Sydney.

I spoke with Linda Mottram on the ABC's PM program.

Reserve Bank on track to trim emergency support as economy rebounds

It's a big day for Australia's Reserve Bank which is likely to flag how and when it will wind-back massive emergency stimulus rolled out at the height of the pandemic.

While the RBA is expected to leave the official cash rate on hold, economists will be watching for any changed language that might signal whether rates will start rising ahead of schedule.

I previewed the central bank's July board meeting when I spoke with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Australian Super balanced fund rebounds 20 percent as stocks surge during crisis

The industry-owned fund Australian Super has delivered a 20 percent return to members who held their nerve during the pandemic induced crisis. 

The fund's chief investment officer Mark Delaney says the best sharemarket returns since the 1980s fuelled the result despite earlier fears the crisis would erode retirement nest eggs.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Small business nervous amid uncertainty about vaccine rollout and more lockdowns

With greater Sydney still in lockdown for the rest of the week, small businesses are becoming increasingly concerned that the stay-at-home restrictions could send many to the brink of collapse.

While state and territory leaders have committed to a four phase plan out of the suppression strategy, business operators are worried that the slow rollout of vaccines could damage the current economic rebound that's underway in parts of Australia.

Here's my analysis on RN Breakfast where I speak with Debbie Brown, founder of the pop-up retailer Eat, Shop, Love.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Businesses on the brink as lockdown costs and mental health issues mount

The lockdown in greater Sydney is expected to cost the New South Wales economy $2 billion or $143 million a day. Picture framer Avi Afrat says the restrictions will cost him $100,000 in lost revenue as customers stay at home.

I also speak with Amanda Rose, founder of Small Business Women Australia, who says even the toughest of female business operators might be forced to give up.

Here's my story from The World Today

Monday, June 28, 2021

Pandemic to hit budget for next 40 years without reform; small business bounces back from pandemic but brace for lockdown losses

The lockdown in greater Sydney is expected to cost the New South Wales economy $2 billion or $143 million a day. 

Xero economist Louise Southall says the latest restrictions mean more uncertainty for small business especially without government support like JobKeeper.

Here's my report from RN Breakfast

I also speak with Thomas Oriti on ABC News Radio

Monday, June 21, 2021

Early rate rises before 2024 commitment likely as RBA gauges surprise jobless fall. I speak with Sally Auld, chief investment officer at JB Were

The unexpected fall in Australia's official jobless rate is raising bets that the Reserve Bank will be forced to raise interest rates ahead of its current 2024 commitment. 

With unemployment now sharply lower at 5.1 percent and inflation set to rise, top economists are already betting the Reserve Bank will be forced to raise interest rates in late 2022 or late 2023 as the facts change about the rapid economic recovery. 

Here's my analysis on RN Breakfast where I speak with Sally Auld, chief investment officer at JB Were.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Unemployment dives below pre-pandemic levels as jobs surge resumes

The official unemployment has dropped below pre-pandemic levels with 115,000 new jobs created in May. 

The Bureau of Statistics says the jobless rate fell to 5.1 percent, significantly below forecasts for 5.5 percent. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the figures are unambiguously good with hours worked higher and the underemployment rate falling to 7.4 per cent, its lowest level since January 2014. 

Federal Reserve signals rate hikes in 2023 as US economic recovery fuels inflation

As the US economy continues to recover from the pandemic-induced crisis, America's central bank has signalled that interest rates might rise much sooner than expected. 

The US Federal Reserve has laid the groundwork to start withdrawing massive economic stimulus rolled out during the pandemic but still says rates won't begin to rise until 2023. 

HSBC Australia chief economist Paul Bloxham says the Fed's signals are good news but doubt they will sway the commitment by the Reserve Bank to keep rates near zero until 2024.

Here's my analysis from ABC NewsRadio

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Australia's Reserve Bank relaxed as economists worry "rebirth of inflation" will spark early rate rises

As the global economic recovery takes hold, big investors are becoming increasingly nervous that signs of rising inflation might see interest rates rise soon than expected. 

While inflation remains subdued in Australia, economists will be watching comments from the US Federal Reserve that might signal any rebirth of inflation. 

ABC's senior business correspondent Peter Ryan analyses the minutes from the Reserve Bank's June meeting.

Rate rise fears rattle investors as US inflation spikes . Could changed Fed language sway RBA's commitment to hold rates until 2024?

Signs of rising inflation around the world continue to rattle major investors who worry the days of near zero interest rates and cheap money might soon be over. 

Economists will be scrutinising comments this week from the US Federal Reserve which maintains rising inflation is in May was "transitory". 

ABC's Peter Ryan says any changed language from America's central bank could sway the Australia's Reserve Bank commitment to keep rates on hold until 2024. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Inflation risks stoke rate rise fears but investors told to hold nerve. I speak with Lori Heinel, State Street chief global investment officer

Signs of rising inflation around the world continue to rattle major investors who worry the days of near zero interest rates and cheap money might soon be over.

But just "how soon" is the big question as professional money managers scrutinise almost every word from central banks and bet on when massive stimulus introduced during the pandemic will be removed.

I speak with Lori Heinel, chief global investment officer at State Street Global Advisors.

Monday, June 7, 2021

NAB, Crown Resorts, SkyCity latest targets in AUSTRAC anti-money laundering breach probes

National Australia Bank is the latest financial institution to be targeted for alleged breaches of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws. 

In what appears to be a blitz, the financial crime agency AUSTRAC is also pursuing Crown Resorts and the operator of Adelaide's casino for potentially breaching regulations. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says corporate Australia is now on red alert for money laundering breaches given hefy fines imposed on Westpac and Commonwealth Bank in recent years.

Business demands exit strategy on Victoria lockdown as losses hit $360m per day - Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

The economic and social cost of the extended COVID lockdown in Victoria is continuing to frustrate and anger business leaders. 

With an estimated $360m being lost each day from deferred spending, Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox is calling for a clear exit strategy. 

ANZ Bank senior economst Felicity Emmett says the rebound from the Victorian lockdown will be harder given the removal of JobKeeper wage support in late March.  

Here's my commentary from this morning's edition of RN Breakfast

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Australia's economy now bigger than at the start of the COVID pandemic, GDP data shows. But can rebound last in the face of vaccine delays and lockdown risks?

Australia's economy has bounced back from the COVID recession, growing by a much-better-than-expected 1.1 per cent over the past year. GDP grew 1.8 per cent in the March quarter, above economist expectations of 1.6 per cent. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says while growth is expected to continue, Australia's rollout of vaccines remains critical to managing future outbreaks.

Economic rebound set to continue with iron ore, consumer spending to boost GDP

This time last year, the outlook for Australia's economy was dire as the fallout from the pandemic sparked damaging lockdowns and border restrictions. 

But later this morning, official growth numbers are expected to confirm Australia's economic rebound continues with output surpassing pre-pandemic levels. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says forecasts have been upgraded to show first quarter growth of 1.5 percent, making 0.6 percent over the year.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Slow vaccine rollout risks "sizeable outbreak" in Australia, OECD warns

 Australia's economy continues to rebound from the pandemic-induced crisis, but there are warnings that delays in rolling out vaccines run the risk of a "sizeable outbreak" and tougher restrictions.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - or the OECD - says the strong recovery could be undermined without a much faster and effective vaccine rollout.

Here's my analysis broadcast on the ABC's AM program

Monday, May 31, 2021

Economic rebound to continue but Victoria lockdown weighs on confidence

There'll be more evidence this week that Australia's economy is continuing it's steady recovery from the pandemic-induced crisis. 

Official GDP numbers out on Wednesday are likely to confirm expanding growth, though the V-shaped rebound appears to be flattening out as massive government stimulus begins to fade.

ABC's Peter Ryan says the focus will be on Victoria'd COVID lockdown amid calls for the return of Jobkeeper support to support workers and employers.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Ousted Australia Post boss Christine Holgate says mental health scars will remain until PM apologises

Ousted Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate says her mental health issues will remain until the Prime Minister apologises for her treatment over the Cartier watches affair. 

Ms Holgate says she is yet to hear from Mr Morrison despite a senate committee calling for an apology in addition to the resignation of the Australia Post chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo.

I spoke with Christine Holgate who remains fragile but stronger despite her ordeal.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Surprise jobless rate fall buoys optimism as inflation fears continue to spook investors - I speak with EY chief economist Jo Masters

A further fall in the official jobless rate has defied earlier fears that the removal of the emergency JobKeeper program in late March would create a surge in unemployment. 

But as economies recover from the pandemic-induced crisis, investors are watching rising inflation amid concerns that central banks might be forced to hike interest rates sooner than expected. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says financial markets are spooked by good news about the recovery being interpreted as bad news.

I also speak with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Unemployment rate ticks lower defying feared impact from Jobkeeper withdrawal

There's been a further improvement in the official jobless rate which appears to have defied the withdrawal of the emergency JobKeeper program in late March. 

Despite earlier fears of steep job losses as employers sacked staff, unemployment has fallen to 5.5 percent with almost 34,000 new full time jobs created. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will claim the result as vindication of his management of the pandemic-induced crisis.

Jobkeeper end likely to have small impact on April jobless rate with feared "cliff" avoided

Economists will be scrutinising the latest official employment numbers out today to gauge any impact from the end of JobKeeper in late March amid earlier concerns of a potential "cliff" or at least a significant blip as workers came off the emergency wage support. 

Number-crunchers have a wide range of bets from 40,000 losses to what would be an extraordinary 50k new jobs created in direct defiance of the JobKeeper withdrawal. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the Prime Minister and Treasurer are likely to jump on confirmation of a steady 5.6 percent jobless rate and vindication of their economic credentials during the crisis.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Sluggish wages growth confirm reality check on federal budget strategy for economic recovery

Australian wages growth picked up from record lows last quarter but was still nowhere close to the levels desired by the central bank, which has promised to not raise interest rates until inflation was sustainably within its target band. 

The official wage price index rose 0.6% in the three months to end December, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported, slightly above forecasts for 0.5% increase.

Here's my analysts from The World Today

Monday, May 17, 2021

Wages, jobs data early reality check on federal budget strategy - Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

Last week's big-spending federal budget has staked almost all of its hopes for any sustained economic turnaround on slashing the jobless rate and getting wages higher. 

There'll be an update on that mammoth task in the coming days when official data on wages growth and employment are released. 

The data will be critical to the budget's credibility in pitching "jobs and growth" especially with no sign of a return to surplus for a decade.

I speak with economist Warren Hogan who warns the recovery risks stoking inflation which could test the Reserve Bank's commitment to keep interest rates steady until 2024.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Budget cash splash irresponsible now that emergency is over warns economist Stephen Anthony

Macroeconomics chief economist Stephen Anthony says the budget is a wasted opportunity for repair with too much misdirected spending. 

Mr Anthony says with the emergency over, the federal government needs to stop pumping in stimulus so the economy can recovery. 

He tells me the cash splash is irresponsible and the private enterprise should not be leading the recovery rather than the taxpayer.

Here's my budget review from RN Breakfast

I also spoke on AM with EY chief economist Jo Masters who says rising inflation is a looming risk to higher interest rates.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Christine Holgate mentally scarred but wiser as she accepts new CEO gig after Australia Post ousting

Former Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate says she is mentally scarred but stronger after her painful ousting late last year. 

Ms Holgate has accepted a new role as chief executive of the freight company Global Express but has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "pick up the phone and apologise" for her treatment. 

Here's my analysis and interview with Christine Holgate

Also, Star Entertainment Group has made a highly conditional offer for the troubled Crown Entertainment casino empire to create a $12 billion merged company. But ABC's Peter Ryan says any deal would require ACCC approval and signoff from state gaming regulators.

Here's how we broke the news on ABC NewsRadio with Tom Oriti.

Big spending budget set to splash on aged care, infrastructure: Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is finetuning a big spending federal budget that will pump tens of billions of dollars into aged care, infrastructure, child care and economic security for women.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans concedes a windfall from falling iron ore prices could be an element of good luck, but he says sound economic management in "going big and going early" with emergency stimulus has been critical in the pandemic-induced crisis.

Here's my analysis from RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Thursday, May 6, 2021

NAB interim profit surges surges 144 pc on local COVID bounce; CEO Ross McEwan urges Treasurer to resist budget repair pressure

National Australia Bank has reported that its half-year profit more than doubled to $3.2 billion thanks to the Australian and New Zealand economies having a "better than expected" COVID rebound. 

CEO Ross McEwan is bullish but urges Josh Frydenberg to resist pressure for budget repair.

Here's my report from The World Today

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

ANZ profit surges on economy bounce; Westpac sued for insider trading in $16 billion Ausgrid sale

ANZ Bank has revealed that its statutory profit jumped by 45 percent to $2.9 billion for the half-year ending March 31. 

The bank released $491 million that it had set aside to cover potential COVID-19 losses, and said this was one of the "key drivers" of its much improved result. 

Also, Westpac has been accused of insider trading in relation to the alleged misuse of privileged information about the NSW government's sale of the energy agency Ausgrid.

Here's my report from The World Today

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Port of Newcastle in funding reprieve but NAB imposes tough green conditions

Port of Newcastle has been given a funding reprieve after National Australia Bank stepped in with a $666 loan facility tied to strict green and social conditions. 

National Australia Bank group executive David Gall says the world's biggest coal export facility, will be able to reduces its repayments if it meets social and environmental targets. 

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon says the deal is a sign that coal and net zero emissions can live side by side.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Monday, May 3, 2021

Westpac profit rebounds in rapid recovery from pandemic-induced economic crisis

What appears to be a rapid economic recovery from the pandemic-induced crisis is being reflected in a bumper profit from Australia's second biggest bank.

Westpac has announced a tripling of its half year profit as optimistic borrowers take on more debt to jump into a surging real estate market.

Here's my report from The World Today

Budget boost from "red hot recovery" as economy bounces back from pandemic; major banks to report bumper profits as worst case scenario avoided

The budget bottom line is set to be boosted by Australia's "red hot recovery" from the COVID recession with $31 billion set to be shaved from the deficit, according to Deloitte Access Economics. 

The optimism comes as major banks prepare to unveil higher profits, in stark contrast to gloomy predictions this time last year. 

Citi banking analyst Brendan Sproules tells ABC's Peter Ryan banks are now under pressure to review loan loss provisions introduced when unemployment was expected to surge into double digits.

Here's my analysis on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Treasurer pledges big spending budget and lower jobless rate; Joseph Longo appointed new ASIC chair as James Shipton retires hurt

Josh Frydenberg has given a commitment that the federal government won't be resorting to austerity to pay for its  massive emergency response during the pandemic induced economic crisis. 

Instead the Treasurer has flagged a big spending budget in a fortnight's time setting itself the target of getting unemployment well below five percent in a bid to lift stagnant wages. 

Also, lawyer Joseph Longo has been appointed as new chair of the corporate regulator ASIC as current chair James Shipton retires hurt despite being cleared over a tax expenses scandal.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Soft inflation confirms slow recovery, endorses RBA's low rate commitment. But for how long?

The official measure of consumer prices has risen by less than expected, with inflation of 0.6 per cent over the three months to March. 

The ABS data show prices rose an average of just 1.1 per cent over the past year. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the outlook for soft inflation confirms the Reserve Bank's commitment to key the cash rate at 0.1 percent until 2024. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Entire Australia Post board to face senate grilling over ousting of CEO Christine Holgate

The senate inquiry into the controversial ousting of Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate resumes this morning with the entire Australia Post board called to give evidence.

Board members will be under pressure to justify Ms Holgate's treatment after her decision to buy Cartier watches to reward top executives sparked an angry outburst from the Prime Minister.

But was Ms Holgate's ousting solely due to the Cartier watches "scandal" or her opposition to a Boston Consulting Group report recommending deep cuts and a path to privatisation?

Here's my analysis when I spoke with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Budget back in post-pandemic balance? UBS bets on possible surplus in 2025.

With the federal budget just a fortnight away, optimism is growing that Australia's exit from the pandemic-induced economic crisis could be sooner rather than later. 

Investment bank UBS predicts the budget deficit could be $35 billion smaller than flagged in the midyear economic update. 

Chief economist George Tharenou thinks it's "plausible" that the budget could be back in balance by 2024/25 with a $200 billion improvement.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

AMP to face investor revolt over reported $50 million payout to exiting executive Boe Pahari

Embattled wealth manager AMP looks set to face another shareholder backlash after revelations that controversial executive Boe Pahari could pocket at least $50 million dollars when he exits the company. 

While Mr Pahari was a financial rainmaker for AMP, he was at the centre of sexual harrassments allegations brought by a female subordinate that damaged the company's reputation. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with shareholder activist Stephen Maybe who says investors are expected to protest at Friday's annual general meeting.

Global pandemic debt bill hits US$81 trillion and more to come: Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

The global debt bill from the COVID19 pandemic hit an eyewatering US$81 trillion at the end of 2020 as governments spent massive amounts on emergency stimulus fearing a repeat of the Great Depression. 

Janus Henderson head of Australian fixed interest Jay Sivapalan says governments are set to rack up more debt to underwrite financial stability as economies slowly normalise. 

Also, the entire Australia Post board will face a senate inquiry tomorrow as the probe into Christine Holgate's outsting as chief executive intensifies.

Here's my analysis from this morning's edition of RN Breakfast

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pandemic thrillseekers spend big local on caravans, skydiving, surfing, scuba diving according to ZIP survey

Thrillseeking Australians have switched to local spending during the pandemic with big increases in surf lessons, skydiving, scuba diving and caravans. 

The unexpected COVID spending is based on anonymised data of 1.5 million customers from buy now pay later company ZIP. 

Co-founder Peter Gray tells me Australians are living life to the full locally with international travel stalled indefinitely.

Cautious budget looms as vaccine delays rattle confidence; James Packer strikes deal with NSW regulator to end influence on Crown Resorts board as Royal Commissions loom.

It's now just over three weeks before Josh Frydenberg hands down the federal budget which is expected to deliver more targeted emergency stimulus to guide Australia out of the pandemic induced economic crisis. 

While there's been surprisingly strong economic news, major uncertainties remain that could easily derail what could be a good news budget - especially delays in getting vaccines out across the country. 

Also, James Packer strikes deal with NSW gaming regulator that see him banned from influencing the Crown Resorts board as the casino giant faces Royal Commissions in Victoria and Western Australia.

Here's my analysis from RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly where I speak with UTS chief economist Tim Harcourt.

I also speak with Tom Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Jobless rate dips to 5.6pc, 70k new jobs in March as Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn describes economic recovery as "miraculous"

Australia's unemployment rate fell to 5.6pc in March with another 70,700 jobs added to the economy according to the ABS. 

The latest figures put the jobless rate just 0.4 of a per cent above where it was prior to the mass job losses seen at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn says the jobless rate could fall to 4.7pc by the end of 2022 describing the recovery as "miraculous". 

Here's my analysis from The World Today.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Australia Post announces new CEO as Christine Holgate prepares to face senate inquiry

Australia Post has appointed a new chief executive to replace Christine Holgate who was ousted late last year after awarding four senior executives Cartier watches worth almost $20,000.

Woolworths executive Paul Graham will join Australia Post in September after more four decades of supply chain and logistics experience including roles at Deutsche Post and DHL. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Mr Graham's appointment comes as Christine Holgate prepares to give evidence to a senate inquiry into her controversial departure.

I spoke on ABC NewsRadio shortly after Mr Graham's appointment was announced.

And here's my analysis from The World Today.

Reserve Bank warns on real estate bubble and risks of "excessive borrowing". Monday Finance with Peter Ryan.

Australia's Reserve Bank ratchets up it's concerns about surging house prices warning that record low interest rates could encourage "excessive borrowing". 

The RBA says it's carefully monitoring risk-taking by banks as borrowers continue to rush into the red hot real estate market. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Christine Holgate's appearance before a senate inquiry into her removal as Australia Post chief executive will be closely watched event amid claims of bullying inside the organisation.

Here's my analysis in RN Breakfast this morning.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan. Feared wave of corporate insolvencies averted despite end of emergency aid. I speak with Morgan Kelly from KPMG.

A feared wave of corporate insolvencies appears to have been averted for now despite the end of JobKeeper, bank loan deferrals and eased insolvency regulations during the crisis. 

KPMG restructuring partner Morgan Kelly tells ABC's Peter Ryan that unprecedented emergency support extended by six months has given companies additional breathing space to plan their survival in the face of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Here's my weekly outlook on RN Breakfast

Thursday, April 1, 2021

JobKeeper ends as emergency government support tapers. So what now? I speak with Paul Turton on ABC Radio in Newcastle

 Here's my chat with Paul Turton on ABC Radio, Newcastle

AMP chief Francesco De Ferrari retires, ANZ's Alexis George steps up; Deliveroo shares tank on London listing

Wealth manager AMP has confirmed chief executive Francesco De Ferrari will retire in July. 

ANZ deputy chief executive Alexis George takes over at the embattled company from July 1. 

Mr De Ferrari leaves less than three years into the AMP hot seat.

Here's my report from The World Today on ABC Radio.

I spoke to Mr De Ferrari on "AM" in late 2018 shortly after he began as CEO.

Listen here

Also, shares on the food delivery company Deliveroo tank on day 1 of its share listing in London.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

AGL splits dirty energy assets into separate company as renewables rise accelerates - I speak with chief executive Brett Redman

The rapid rise of renewables has forced the energy giant AGL into an aggressive survival strategy by splitting its dirty fossil fuel assets into a seperate company. 

The corporate manoeuvre where legacy coal and gas assets will be housed in a company called PrimeCo comes as AGL confronts a fundamental shift to green energy and after pressure from major investors and superannuation funds. 

But AGL chief executive Brett Redman tells ABC's Peter Ryan can't be sold off given the need to "keep the lights on" during to transition to renewables.

I also speak with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio to explain the challenge AGL is facing to deliver on the strategy.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Official fallout from Jobkeeper end might not be clear for weeks

The full impact of the Jobkeeper withdrawal is unlikely to be known for at least a month as many employers decide whether they can afford to hold on to staff. 

Westpac economists think the jobless rate will drift back to 6 percent before recovering. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says as many as 150,000 jobs could disappear as a result of the Jobkeeper axing.

Emotional road trip from Brisbane ends in u-turn as Brisbane lockdown looms

People travelling interstate from Brisbane for the first time in months have been caught up in the three day lockdown.

Brendan Ryan made it halfway to Sydney and was at Forster on the New South Wales north coast when he got the news.

He'd decided to head south to visit his elderly mother who he hasn't seen since late 2019 because of last year's border restrictions.

Brendan Ryan spoke with his brother, the ABC's senior business correspondent Peter Ryan just before he made a u-turn,

Monday Finance - JobKeeper end push up to 150,000 Australians out of work

The federal government's $90 billion JobKeeper wage support scheme has officially ended in what's likely to be a uncertain new chapter in Australia's recovery from the pandemic-induced economic crisis. 

While the latest official data shows more people exited JobKeeper last month, Treasury estimates up to 150,000 jobs could be lost in the coming months as employers make hard decisions on how many roles they can afford to retain. 

ABC's Peter Ryan also looks at the mega container vessel stuck in the Suez Canal and an uncertain future for AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tourism jobs go begging in Queensland despite Jobkeeper withdrawal anxiety - NAB boss Ross McEwan agrees support needs to end

With Jobkeeper set to end at the weekend, there are fears that the end of government support will be a shock to the economy and put more Australians out of work. 

But National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan has told ABC's Peter Ryan that Jobkeeper needs to end and that tourism in far north Queensland is struggling to fill jobs in hotels, bars and cafes. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Crown Royal Commission to probe gambling addiction

The first of two Royal Commissions into casino licences held by Crown Resorts will examine how the casino empire deals with customers who are addicted to gambling. 

Royal Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein will also investigate determine if money laundering is still being conducted at Crown's "cash cow" Melbourne casino. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Mr Finkelstein has demanded more information from Crown and that the Royal Commission won't tolerate delays

Crown Royal Commission to probe money laundering activity at Melbourne casino

Here's my preview of the Crown Royal Commission (Victorian edition) which gets underway in Melbourne this morning.

I speak with corporate governance expert Professor Elizabeth Sheedy of Macquarie Business School who says the stakes are high for Crown.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan - banks rebuild reputations during COVID as digital banking demand surges

Customer demand for digital banking services has surged during the COVID crisis as Australians both young and old change their personal finance habits.

National Australia Bank group executive of personal banking Rachel Slade says 93 percent of customers now use digital banking. 

Also, Industry Super Australia launches fightback advertising campaign against the proposed "pause" in super guarantee. 

And Victoria's Royal Commission into Crown Resorts gets underway in Melbourne this week.

Here's my analysis form this morning's RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Jobless rate in surprise falls as economic bounce continues

Australia's unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in February in the latest evidence that the economic recovery continues. 

It was a much bigger-than-expected drop, as economists were expecting it to fall slightly to 6.3%. 

Last month, 89,000 people took up new jobs – which was also better than what the market had expected.

 ABC's Peter Ryan says bets are rising that the Reserve Bank might raise interest rates earlier than expected - providing the end of Jobkeeper doesn't create a shock.

Here's my report from The World Today 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan - could Jobkeeper end push jobless rate higher? Concerns that real estate bubble could pose systemic risk to economy.

Warnings are growing that Australia's unemployment rate will rise when emergency support like Jobkeeper ends on March 28. 

While new targeted stimulus for aviation and tourism announced last week has been cautiously welcomed by the sector, there are concerns it won't help accommodation and hospitality businesses. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with Judo Bank chief executive who says the unemployment rate will rise when the Jobkeeper program wraps up.

Mr Healy also sees a systemic risk from the real estate bubble in some parts of Australia when interest rates eventually rise.

Here's my analysis from RN Breakfast this morning

Monday, March 8, 2021

Kate Carnell calls for inquiry into Porter rape allegation - Monday Finance with Peter Ryan

The distressing events in Canberra over the past few weeks revealing an unsafe work environment for women and rape allegations against the Attorney General Christian Porter have sparked calls for rapid change in the halls of political power.

One of the most experienced players in Canberra, Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell, is the latest demanding cultural change in politics and she also says an inquiry is needed to ensure justice is seen to be done in the case of Christian Porter - who has denied the allegations.

I spoke with Kate Carnell on this morning's edition of RN Breakfast

Monday, March 1, 2021

Crown director John Poynton quits as casino board cleanout continues

Crown Resorts has announced that another key director has quit the board of the embattled casino group. 

WA-based John Poynton has resigned from Crown's board and as chairman of the company's Burswood casino in Perth. 

Crown executive chairman Helen Coonan says the decision is "appropriate" after concerns by the New South Wales gaming regulator about Mr Poynton's  perceived lack of independence from a past relationship with majority shareholder James Packer.

Here's my report from The World Today

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan: Australian economy set to continue cautious recovery from pandemic crisis

This time last year, Australians were staring down the beginning of the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

But with vaccines being rolled out and border restrictions easing, Australia's economy is continuing to slowly recover - despite last year's damaging lockdown in Victoria.

This week we'll get the latest snapshot on the cautious economic bounceback and whether the end of Jobkeeper will unravel that optimism.

Here's my regular Monday segment with Fran Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Alan Joyce vents frustration on border restrictions as Qantas posts billion dollar half year loss

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has vented his frustration at state and territory border restrictions that have contributed to the airline's billion dollar loss in the final six months of last year. 

Mr Joyce is urging uniform rules to ease confusion and build certainty for travellers. Mr Joyce speaks with the ABC's Peter Ryan.

I spoke with Alan Joyce for The World Today 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bets rise for early rate rise despite high jobless, low inflation - though RBA sees rate close to zero until 2024

Some market strategists are beginning to bet that central banks including Australia's Reserve Bank might raise interest rates ahead of expectations as the global recovery gains pace. 

But ABC's Peter Ryan says the RBA is likely to stick to its own forecasts that rates will remain close to zero until 2024 despite rising inflation.

Here's my analysis from The World Today

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Crown Royal Commission to probe public interest of Melbourne casino licence - could Crown cash cow on the Yarra be in jeopardy?

The Royal Commission into Crown's casino licence in Melbourne will look at public interest issues that could go to problem gambling. 

The Victorian inquiry will also look at Crown's close associates and allegations of money laundering raised in the New South Wales inquiry into the casino giant's Sydney licence. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Crown has welcomed the Royal Commission and that it will demonstrate the reforms it already has underway.

Here's my report from this morning's edition of AM.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Royal Commission into Crown to probe Melbourne licence and public interest of casino business

Embattled casino giant Crown Resorts is facing a Royal Commission into its licence to operate in Victoria. 

The inquiry will also look at Crown's close associates and public interest issues in Crown's casino. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says Crown has welcomed the Royal Commission and that it will demonstrate the reforms it already has underway.

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan. Trust spikes in COVID crisis - but can it last when stimulus ends?

A barometer from the global communications group Edelman says trust across Australian government and business has surged during COVID crisis. 

But will that trust ebb when JobKeeper and bank loan repayment deferrals end in late March? 

Also, I assess the crisis engulfing Crown Resorts as the casino giant battles to win back the trust of regulators. 

Here's my report from this morning where I speak with Susan Redden Makatoa about Edelman's global trust barometer.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Not all will survive when loan repayment pause ends as banks prepare for "hard decisions" - Banking Association boss Anna Bligh warns

Deferrals or pauses on bank loan repayments have been a critical lifeline during the COVID crisis, preventing many home owners and businesses from going to the wall.

But the Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh says although 91 percent of borrowers have now resumed repayments, it's clear that some won't survive as banks start calling loans in. 

The end of the loan deferral scheme coincides with the withdrawal of JobKeeper late next month.

But Ms Bligh tells ABC's Peter Ryan there won't be an economic shock when the emergency support pulls back.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Permanant changes to disclosure rules challenged by Labor and shareholder activists

Treasurer Josh Frydenerg is being challenged over his plans to make permanent changes to continous disclosure rules for companies listed on the Australian stock exchange. 

The overhaul would formalise temporary changes introduced during at the height of the COVID recession to shield company directors from personal liability and class actions.

But ABC's Peter Ryan says opponents claims the changes erode the disclosure regime when shareholders not more information - not less.

Crown facing new inquiry into Perth casino licence as crisis deepens

The crisis confronting Crown Resorts is deepening by the day with regulators in Western Australia recommending an investigation into whether the company is suitable to operate its Burswood casino in Perth. 

The WA probe comes after the New South Wales regulator effectively stripped Crown of its licence for a casino at Barangaroo in Sydney. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says corporate regulator ASIC is closely watching for potential breaches of corporate law.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Crown Resorts officially told it's not suitable to hold Sydney casino licence

Crown Resorts has been dealt another blow after the New South Wales gaming regulator said the company was no longer suitable to hold a licence for its new Sydney casino.

While Crown is racing to overhaul its board and management, the ruling is casting a shadow over the company's other lucrative casino licences in Sydney and Perth.

Here's my report from The World Today

Monday, February 15, 2021

Monday Finance on RN Breakfast: Crown chairman Helen Coonan should quit in boardroom purge, says former Victoria premier Jeff Kennett

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says Crown Resorts chairman Helen Coonan should resign as part of a boardroom cleanout. 

Mr Kennett says Ms Coonan needs to take responsibility given her board role from 2011 when evidence of money laundering breaches at the casino should have been detected. 

Crown chief executive Ken Barton is also under pressure to resign after the Bergin inquiry found the company was unfit to hold a licence for a Sydney casino.

Mr Kennett is also highly critical of Victorian premier Dan Andrews who he says should face the music and resign of failures in hotel quarantine and contact tracing that sparked a five day lockdown.

Jeff Kennett spoke with the ABC's Peter Ryan on RN Breakfast

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Crown chief executive Ken Barton under pressure to quit as casino cleanout accelerates; chairman Helen Coonan unreservedly apologises for shortcomings

Pressure is growing for Crown Resorts chief executive Ken Barton to resign after the chairman of the New South Wales casino regulator said he needed to go. 

Crown's chairman Helen Coonan has unreservedly apolgised the the casino giant's shortcomings agreeing there's a urgency for root and branch change. 

NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority chairman Philip Crawford agrees Mr Barton and director Andrew Demetriou "need to go".

Here's my report from The World Today

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn confident of no "cliff" or shock when Jobkeeper ends in late March

The pandemic-driven recession has carved a big hole from the Commonwealth Bank's bottom line with its half year profit diving 21 percent to $4.9 billion. 

Australia's biggest bank has been forced to increase its provisions for bad debts from rising unemployment while record low interest rates have also eroded the CBA's business of making money. 

But CBA chief executive Matt Comyn tells ABC's Peter Ryan he's optimistic that Jobkeeper can be removed in late March without causing more hardship or another shock.

James Packer set to sell Crown controlling stake to save Sydney casino licence as boardroom cleanout begins

The future of James Packer's gaming empire is in real jeopardy this morning after a New South Wales inquiry found Crown Resorts is not suitable to operate a new casino in Sydney. 

This morning, two Crown directors have resigned in the wake of the report - Michael Johnston and Guy Jalland who are both close to Mr Packer.

The findings are highly damaging for Mr Packer and members of Crown's board after evidence the company turned a blind eye to money laundering and fostered questionable links to shady junket operators. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with Packer biographer Damon Kitney who says Mr Packer may be forced to sell down his 37 percent stake to save the Sydney licence but also Crown's cash cows in Melbourne and Perth. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Crown Barangaroo licence in jeopardy after inquiry finds James Packer-controlled company not suitable to operate Sydney casino

In a severe blow to the fortunes of billionaire James Packer, an inquiry has found Crown Resorts is not suitable to operate a casino at Barangaroo in Sydney. 

Mr Packer is Crown's majority shareholder, but the inquiry by the New South Wales gaming regulator says he needs to sell down his control after allegations the company facilitated money laundering and has links with shady junket operators. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says the inquiry's finding are damning of Crown's management and board of directors, raising the question of whether the casino giant is capable of overhauling its operations.

"a dumb idea" - Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon slams ANZ's decision to dump Port of Newcastle

 Here's my analysis and coverage on The World Today

Climate risk assessments misused in financial reports leaving investors exposed, study warns

A report out this morning warns that critical financial information sometimes blurred in climate change risk models could expose businesses and consumers to major risks. 

The paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change says methodologies used in risk assessments can often be clouded in corporate "black boxes" or "commercial in confidence" agreements where information could be misconstrued. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with Dr Tanya Fiedler of the University of Sydney Business School who says says company boards and top executives need to do a better job in disclosing climate change risk.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Jobkeeper exit nerves rise despite optimism about economic recovery

 As Australia's economy continues to recover from the COVID crisis, all eyes are companies rolling out their profit results this week. 

The major focus is on Wednesday when the Commonwealth Bank reveals its half year numbers and importanty the economic outlook from chief executive Matt Comyn who's remains cautiously optimistic the worst is behind us. 

But the Australian Industry Group is warning there could be a shock in late March when JobKeeper ends. 

I speak with the ABC's Nas Campanello on The World Today

I also speak earlier today on RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

I speak with Tom Oriti on ABC News Radio.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Housing market "more resilient than expected" in covid crisis says RBA governor Philip Lowe

The governor of the Reserve Bank has warned that financial regulators will move swiftly if there's any sign of a dangerous real estate bubble developing in parts of Australia.

Philip Lowe says there are no alarm bells ringing just yet, but he'd told a parliamentary committee that regulators are monitoring the rush into property to ensure lending standards don't deteriorate.

Here's my analysis on The World Today

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Economic recovery on track, RBA cash rate on hold until 2024; some retail traders burned as Gamestop crashes 60pc

The Reserve Bank is forecasting the economy will bounce back to its pre-pandemic strength by the middle of this year. 

However, governor Philip Lowe says the RBA's official cash rate will remain on hold until 2024 as the economy fully recovers. 

Also, Gamestop shares have lost 60 percent of their value as steep selling left some amateur day traders challenging sophisticated hedge funds badly burned.

I speak with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Silver becomes the new Gamestop, metal soars to 8 year high on risky bets

The price of silver has soared overnight as amateur traders continue to take on big professional institutions at their own high risk game. 

It's the latest installment in the current David versus Goliath battle after day traders swapping information on social media pushed up the price of a little known company Gamestop. 

ABC's Peter Ryan says there are fears that day traders buying in at the top of the market could get badly burned when the silver price corrects.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Reserve Bank to update on economic recovery; Gamestop attack on US hedge funds rattles investors

It's a big week ahead for economic news with the Reserve Bank providing a major update on Australia's recovery from the pandemic-induced shock. 

A key question for economists is how the RBA balances the current near zero interest rates with the consequence of soaring real estate prices, fueled by cheap money and pent up demand from househunters. 

ABC's Peter Ryan also discusses market volatility caused by Gamestock trading on Wall Street where retail investors on "main street" are taking on major hedge funds on Wall Street.

I also speak with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Stocks fall sharply on fears of overvalued markets and pandemic woes

The Australian sharemarket has suffered heavy losses, after a sharp pullback across US and European markets overnight. 

Investors have turned more cautious on fear of overvalued stocks and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell says there are key unknowns such as new virus strains and the effective rollout of vaccines.

Here's my report on The World Today

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Inflation bounces as Australia shakes off deep recession

Consumer prices rose 0.9 per cent over 2020, despite Australia enduring its first recession in almost three decades. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9 per cent in the December quarter because of higher tobacco taxes and rising childcare expenses.  

I speak with Sally Sara on The World Today

IMF upgrades global pandemic recovery but warns of "exceptional uncertainty"

The world is slowly starting to recover from the economic carnage wrought by the pandemic but there's still "exceptional uncertainty", the International Monetary Fund has warned. 

Global growth is forecast to be 5.5 percent in 2021 as vaccinations roll out. But IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath warns vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations is a major risk to the recovery. 

Here's my report on this morning's edition of AM.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Monday Finance - Joe Biden in push for US$1.9 trillion rescue package for struggling US economy; inflation to tip higher but still subdued

Joe Biden's ascension to the US presidency has been welcomed by global investors who are betting on greater certainty and stability that was missing in the Donald Trump era. 

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital Investors, says Mr Biden is also likely to ease trade tensions with China which in turn could help Australia in its own bitter trade feud with China. 

Gareth Aird, head of Australian economic at the Commonwealth Bank discusses the latest official inflation figures due on Wednesday.

Here's my analysis with Fran Kelly this morning on RN Breakfast.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan - Sydney virus outbreak threat to economic recovery

Just when the economy looked like turning the corner after the pandemic-induced recession, the lockdown on Sydney's northern beaches is raising new fears about tougher restrictions returning as states protect themselves from the virus. 

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox says even before the outbreak, businesses were on edge about a tough year ahead especially with JobKeeper ending in late March. 

Mr Willox tells ABC's Peter Ryan that additional lockdowns would be disastrous for the economic recovery.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Exploited fruit pickers deserve minimum wage - Australian Workers Union urges overhaul of award to avoid $3 an hour rate

Evidence of widespread wages theft in the fruit picking sector could force the closure of an industrial loophole that allows farms to pay foreign workers as little as three dollars an hour or $60 a day. 

The Australian Workers Union will apply to the Fair Work Commission to amend the current horticulture award to ensure farm workers receive the minimum $24.80 an hour. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with AWU national secretary Daniel Walton who says greater enforcement in the sector is needed to ensure workers are not exploited.

Read my story from ABC News Online

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Could pandemic construction slump be chance to boost social housing?

Despite the social chaos caused by the pandemic, a report out this morning says the construction industry is recovering from the COVID-induced recesssion.

But a big oversupply of city apartments has put downward pressure on rents - though that reprieve could be short lived.

The National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation - the federal government's "affordable housing" agency - has produced a five year projection for housing supply and demand across major cities and regional areas

It's found the pandemic has caused the biggest shock to population growth since early last century and says international restrictions, an exodus of foreign students will free up around 200,000 extra homes over the next two years.

Hugh Hartigan, the affordable housing agency's head of research, sees an opportunity to tweak policy settings, and to challenge social norms that push back against development.

He tells me now could be the time for governments both state and federal to build more social housing. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Monday Finance with Peter Ryan - surging iron ore price to budget rescue

After a white knuckle ride during the pandemic-induced economic crisis, there's likely to be positive news when the federal government releases it's mid year budget update or MYEFO in the coming days. E

Economists expect the budget deficit will be slightly narrowed with other key economic forecasts upgraded as the wheels of business roll in the all important leadup to Christmas. 

But higher than expected iron ore prices have also come to the budget rescue touching US$160 a tonne over the weekend. 

ABC's Peter Ryan speaks with economists Chris Richardson and Shane Oliver.

I also speak with Thomas Oriti on ABC NewsRadio

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Unaffordable insurance premiums risk "market failure", inquiry report warns

Small businesses are being killed by unaffordable insurance policies with some premiums tripling in just a few years, Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell is warning. 

An inquiry is warning of dire consequences for Australia's economy as companies still feeling the impact of last summer's bushfires say they can't get insurance cover for more natural disasters. 

Ms Carnell tells ABC's Peter Ryan the federal government needs to be an insurer of last resort.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Ratings downgrade a necessary cost of emergency government support

Australia's massive emergency response to the COVID crisis has seen come at a cost to the powerhouse states of New South Wales and Victoria. 

Both have been stripped of their coveted AAA crediting rating as government debt surges. 

Westpac's head of rates strategy Damien McColough tells ABC's Peter Ryan the federal governmet's AAA credit rating is also vulnerable from spiralling debt.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Calls for royal commission as report details allegations blueberry farmers pay workers $3 an hour

An investigation into the blueberries industry on the New South Wales north coast is alleging systemic wages theft and intentional worker underpayment by unscrupulous labour hire firms.

LISTEN to the story broadcast on AM

Research by the McKell Institute commissioned by the Australian Workers Union claims contractors used by some farms in the Coff Harbour region have convinced young foreign workers to accept below award wages to roll over their working holiday visas.

READ my story on ABC News Online

A report released today (subs: Friday 4/12) says some labour hire firms recruiting fruit pickers for the region are "severely and intentionally underpaying their workers" and often disappear when complaints about underpayments emerge.

I speak with Joanne Shoebridge on ABC Radio in Lismore

"The dramatic growth of the blueberry sector in the absence of policy safeguards has made the region a target for nefarious labour hirers," the report says.

The report says an audit of job advertisements specific to the Coffs Coast blueberry region found some contractors offering pay rates as low as $60 for a day's work.

The horticultural industry is estimated to have enticed 3,000 foreign labourers on Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visas every year with a renewal depending on completing 88 days of regional work.

The report says the Coffs Harbour coast is home to 65 percent of Australia's blueberries crop and had attracted more than 2,000 workers at the time of the investigation which coincided with the 2020 harvest.

McKell Institute researcher Edward Cavanough who co-authored "Blue Harvest" for the AWU says some foreign workers are being paid as little as three dollars an hour.

"If workers were being paid the appropriate rate on these farms, it would be around $24 an hour. We're very rarely seeing workers get that much," Mr Cavanough said.

"Some of the stories have been absolutely harrowing. A lot of working holiday makers are having terrible experiences with subcontractors.

"We've seen incidents of workers getting abused, trying to chase money from their employer. These are some of the worst cases of worker exploitation you'll see in Australia."

Workers interviewed in the report complain about a fluctuating daily "piece rate" and that employers change it each day depending on arbitrarily set "market rates"  to ensure a workers' pay remains well below the minimum wage. 

"The ability of employers to reset piece rates each working day enables some employers to sustain low rates of pay for employees, irrespective of the fruit condition, while citing 'market rates' as a justification".

The ABC has spoken to three foreign workers recruited to work on blueberry farms who claim to have been underpaid and exploited by labour hire firms in return for help in extending their visas.

"I was really surprised. I didn't think this could happen in Australia. I had this image about the country that was very fair about working and wages," says Argentinian worker Lautiro Wickmann.

"No one complains because we need the job. They know we are desperate for our pay slips."

"Isabel", a backpacker from Ecuador, was unable to get hospitality work in Sydney during the pandemic and headed north to pick blueberries but found the per bucket or "piece rate" was barely enough to live on.

"When I arrived they told me they pay per bucket. It would be from six dollars to eight dollars. But in the first week, the rate was so low and I was only paid $120," Isabel says.

"The thing is that I didn't have enough time to complete my 88 day visa - so I was told it was that or nothing."

Isabel told the ABC the unlawful behaviour by labour hire contractors "looks like and feels like modern slavery".

Labour hire firms recruiting for the region refused to speak on the record when contacted by the ABC but denied claims that vulnerable foreign workers are being exploited or in some cases mistreated.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Daniel Walton says the report confirms a disturbing culture of intentional worker underpayment in Australia.

"We've seen worker exploitation with passports being taken, we've seen sexual assault and physical violence. The concerning thing for us is that it's getting worse, not better," Mr Walton said.

However, Mr Walton defended the report's decision not to name any labour hire firms or farms accused of wages theft.

"Quite frankly, putting the spotlight on them now is going to given them an opportunity to duck and hide and runaway."

Mr Walton criticised previous investigations for failing to clamp down on exploitation and said a Royal Commission was now necessary to safeguard worker rights.

"There is such a massive failing in this industry that a Royal Commission looks like the most appropriate way to put a stop to this," Mr Walton said.

The ABC contacted three blueberry farms in the Coffs Harbour region for comment but calls were not returned.

A major supplier with farms on the Coffs Coast - not named in the report but referred to by some workers - refused to comment but said any allegations of wages theft should be referred to directly to employers or the Fair Work Ombudsman.