Friday, June 2, 2023

Fair Work Commission rejects fears 5.75pc minimum wage increase risks wage-price spiral

Millions of low income workers struggling with the surging cost of living are about to get some long-awaited relief -- with the Fair Work Commission has delivered a minimum wage increase of 5.7575 percent from the first of July.

The wages boost is less than unions had demanded but in making the decision, the Commission it won't cause a wages brackout and end up fuelling inflation.

Here's my analysis on The World Today

Surprise minimum wage increase could worry Reserve Bank, T-Corp chief economist Brian Redican warns

Millions of low income workers struggling with the surging cost of living will be could get some relief later this morning.

That's when the Fair Work Commission reveals it's latest decision on a a minimum wage with some economists preducting an increase of seven percent.

But with inflation still on the rise could even a small increase force another interest rate rise?

I speak with Brian Redican chief economist at T-Corp.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

PwC contracts to be reviewed by Dept of Industry; BHP in worker underpayment scandal

Another powerful government department is the latest to review its relationship with PwC as the scandal over the firm's confidentiality breaches continues to escalate.

The Department of Industry has asked PwC for assurances that it has been acting ethically after revelations it exploited secret tax information to attract lucrative clients - rather than protecting taxpayers from tax avoidance schemes.

But PwC isn't the only company under fire with the mining giant BHP admitting to massive worker underpayments.

Here's my coverage on The World Today

Did PwC partner Peter-John Collins get off lightly with two year ban? Tax Practicioners Board grilled on why the penalty wasn't tougher.

As the scandal at PwC continues to unfold by the day, pressure is growing for revelations the firm abused confidential government information to one of the first investigations for the new National Anti Corruption Commission.

The heat is also turning up on the regulatory body overseeing the tax advice industry to hand over names of PwC partners who've been forced to take immediate leave on suspicions they might have exploited the tax leak for their own benefit - rather that protected taxpayers from tax avoidance schemes.

Here's my report on ABC Newsradio

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

I'm a client - PwC working for Reserve Bank but governor Philip Lowe slams tax leak behaviour as "appalling"

In more evidence about the wide reach of PwC, the Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has revealed he's one of the scandal-plagued consulting firm's many clients.

Appearing before Senate Estimates, Mr Lowe confirmed PwC is helping resolve worker underpayments at the RBA but says he's appalled at the firm's behaviour and that there should be "serious consequences".

Here's my report on The World Today

Tax Office frustrated in PwC tax leak probe despite alerting AFP in 2018; Kenneth Hayne raises eyebrow about bad corporate behaviour

The scandal at the embattled consultancy firm PwC is getting murkier by the day.

The latest revelation is that the Australian Federal Police was tipped off about a leak of confidential tax information five years ago - but an investigation never got off the ground because of complex secrecy rules.

Addressing the Congress of Actuaries, former Banking Royal Commission chair Kenneth Hayne (without directly naming PwC) says unethical behavious risks remain where profits and personal gain are put ahead of client interests.

Former Banking Royal Commission chair Kenneth Hayne addresses the Congress of Actuaries

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

If not so serious, I'd call it theatre. The PWC tax leak scandal dominates Senate Estimates.

I speak with Andy Park on RN Drive

Crown Resorts casino empire and financial crime agency AUSTRAC strike deal on $450 m penality for money laundering breaches

The Crown Resorts casino empire is bracing for a $450 million fine that's been negotiated with the financial crime agency AUSTRAC.

The proposed penalty - if signed off by the Federal Court - would be one of the biggest in Australian corporate history and ends damaging legal action over anti money laundering breaches and evidence of links with criminal gangs.

Will this fine erase the blemish left by the previous owners?

My analysis on the PM program

"ok until the ATO figures out the joke" - PWC emails highlight confidentiality breaches

An email from former PwC tax partner Peter-John Collins has been cited in the tax leak scandal where he says it's "ok until the ATO figures out the joke". 

Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy under questioning from Labor senator Deborah O'Neill says the PwC revelations are "disturbing".

Here's my report on The World Today

PWC apology "too little too late". Have we learned from Royal Commissions into banks and casinos?

The heat is turning up on the embattled consulting giant PwC as pressure grows for the firm to be banned from all government business.

That's despite PwC putting nine partners on immediate leave and the firm's acting chief executive apologising for confidentiality breaches about a multinational tax avoidance crackdown.

But it raises a big question.

Have we learned anything from the Banking Royal Commission, and two Royal Commissions into bad corporate behaviour at the Crown Resorts casino empire?

I speak on ABC Newsradio

Monday, May 29, 2023

PWC finally acts on tax leave scandal with nine senior partners put on immediate leave

The global advisory firm PwC has moved to stem the damage from a massive confidentiality breach that has become a full blown crisis.

PwC is putting nine senior partners on "leave" and is working to ringfence lucrative government business in a bid to salvage the firm's reputation.

Here's the breaking news on The World Today

Friday, May 26, 2023

Should PwC be ousted from all federal government work? Finance Minister Katy Gallagher rejects outright ban.

As the crisis at PwC deepens, pressure is growing for the consulting giant to be banned from all federal government work as an Australian Federal police investigation gets underway.

But how realistic is that given the enormous reach of PwC into almost every level of government?

Grilled in Senate Estimates, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has pushed back on calls for an outright ousting but wants the firm to prove any ethical contagion is under control.

Here's my analysis on ABC Newsradio

Thursday, May 25, 2023

PwC tax leak scandal referred to Australian Federal Police for possible criminal investigation

There's been a major escalation in the crisis at the advisory firm PwC with alleged confidentiality breaches now referred to the Australian Federal Police for a potential criminal investigation.

Read the statement from Treasury Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy

PwC says it will co-operate with any investigation by the AFP as it steps up damage control over an alleged tax leak on a tax avoidance crackdown that continues to smash the firm's reputation.

Here's my analysis on the AM program where I speak with former policy adviser Tom Ravlic about the significant escalation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

US debt ceiling impasse - what happens if Washington defaults on its bills?

The long-running deadlock over raising the debt ceiling in the United States looks set to go down to the wire as financial markets grow increasingly nervous about what could be a catastrophic debt default.

The US government remains on track to run out of cash as early as next week taking the impasse from a political fight in Washington to freezing the transmission of money for everyday services Americans take for granted.

I speak on ABC Newsradio with Tom Oriti

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Facebook owner Meta hit with record US$1.2 billion fine for EU privacy breach

It's been a bad day at the office for Mark Zuckerberg after his social media juggernaut was slapped with a massive penalty for privacy breaches.

European Union regulators have fine Facebook's parent company Meta more than a billion dollars for transferring user data gathered in the European Union to its head office in the United States.

Here are my reports on AM, ABC Newsradio and ABC News On Demand

Friday, May 19, 2023

PwC "getting away with murder" over alleged tax leak - Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg urges ASIC investigation into white collar crime

As the scandal over confidentiality breaches by PwC intensify, pressure is growing on the corporate watchdog to properly investigate.

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg says ASIC and other regulators failed to rein in white collar crime and that consuting firms are "getting away with murder".

I spoke with Senator Bragg on the AM program and later with Tom Oriti on ABC Newsradio

Thursday, May 18, 2023

April jobless rate ticks to 3.7pc. Is this a turning point for the labour market as lagging rate rises impact?

Australia's employment market appears to hit a turning point with the official jobless rate ticking higher last month to 3.7 percent.

Also in a major breakthrough, China announces its ban in Australian timber will end immediately.

Here's my breaking news coverage on The World Today

Reserve Bank rate rise dependent on April employment update

There'll be a lot of attention on official employment data out later this morning and whether that tempers the Reserve Bank's mood for another interest rate rise.

Econmists tip the April jobless rate will remain at 3.5pc with 25,000 new jobs created.

But how long before the labour market begins to turn after eleven interest rate rises?

I speak on ABC Newsradio with Tom Oriti

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

PwC crisis deepens amid calls for gov't business ban. Labor senator Deborah O'Neill says criminal charges can't be ruled out

There are growing calls for PWC to be banned from taking on more federal government contracts after the consulting giant allegedy used confidential information to help clients "work-around" anti-tax avoidance laws.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill wants to name around fifty PWC partners implicated in the scandal and says criminal in addition to civil penalties should be considered to deal with what she calls theft and deception from Australian taxpayers.

Here's my report on AM

I spoke with former ACCC chairman Allan Fels who says the PwC scandal was a ticking timebomb waiting to happen

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

PwC tax leak crisis could see more executive heads roll, Emeritus Professor Ian Ramsay warns

The global consulting firm PwC is battling to salvage its reputation for trust amid allegations that it misused a confidential briefing to help clients get around multinational anti-tax avoidance laws.

The scandal has claimed the scalp of PwC's Australian boss Tom Seymour and corporate veteran Ziggy Switkowski has been hired to conduct an internal review warning that if necessary more heads could roll.

This is now a global crisis for PwC and top executives have been flown in as part of damage control in addition to Ziggy Switkowski's interal investigation.

Corporate law expert Emeritus professor Ian Ramsay from the University of Melbourne is one of the many observers gobsmacked by the implications.

PwC tax leak crisis could see more executive heads roll, Ziggy Switkowski to lead internal probe

The crisis engulfing the global consulting firm P-W-C is deepening by the day amid allegations that it misused confidential information to help clients to work around anti-tax avoidance laws.

The fallout has already claimed the scalp of P-W-C's Australian chief executive Tom Seymour as now former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski will lead an internal investigation that could see more heads roll.

I spoke with Clancy Moore, chief executive of Transparency International Australia

Monday, May 15, 2023

Wages, jobs updates to test inflation and Reserve Bank rates appetite

We're almost a week after the federal budget, and as the rubber hits the road, it's a big week for economic news.

There'll be key updates on wages growth and employment over the next few days which could tell us more about  inflation and whether the Reserve Bank has an appetite for another interest rate rise.

I speak on ABC Newsradio with Tom Oriti

Friday, May 12, 2023

RBA modelling sees 80pc recession risk. But economists doubt extreme case of 4.8pc cash rate

The Reserve Bank's crusade to tame inflation could end up triggering a recession at the cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

That's the prediction from within the RBA based on modelling where the cash rate rises aggressively to  4.8 percent.

The startling scenario comes days after the federal budget and concerns that big spending could fuel inflation and pressure the RBA to keep raising rates.

Here's my report on AM

Thursday, May 11, 2023

US inflation below 5pc in two years; Jim Chalmers rushes to quell fears about Budget inflation

After what feels like an era of surging prices in the United States, it looks as though the scourge of inflation is rapidly easing.

Consumer prices have slowed to below five percent for the first time in two years raising hope the US Federal Reserve might ease it's so far aggressive interest rate rises.

I speak on ABC Newsradio

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Beyond surplus spin - economists wanted reform on GST, capital gains tax and negative gearing. All political toxic despite Labor's political capital on hand.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is betting big spending on household assistance, welfare increases, bulk billing incentives and energy bill relief won't make inflation any worse.

At the same time, some economists worry the budget - while big on spin - is a missed opportunity for real "budget repair" and structural reform.

I speak to former Treasury official Stephen Anthony and Barrenjoey chief economist Jo Masters who wanted to see more courageous action.

Here's my analysis on The World Today

Jim Chalmers insists budget spending won't fuel inflations. Some economists disagree and say the Reserve Bank will be under pressure

The morning after the Budget night before.

I joined David Lipson once again on the ABC's "AM" program

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Peter Ryan's Budget take - missed opportunity that will worry Reserve Bank

 Here's my budget analysis when I joined ABC colleague David Lipson on the "PM" Budget Special

"Missed opportunity for budget repair" - economist Stephen Anthony warns budget risks rate rises

This is a Budget for uncertain times – balancing relief, repair and restraint – in the face of darkening economic storm clouds with domestic growth expected to slow to 1.5 percent by the end of the year – no recession yet but the risks are growing.


The Canberra spin - is all about a $4.2 billion surplus – if it eventuates. But even Treasurer Jim Chalmers concedes it's a one-off warning that deficits will be back in a flash to fund Medicare, the NDIS, and defence.

Elements of good luck and good management have snagged windfall gains from more people in the workforce and the world's appetite for Australian commodities boosting Treasury coffers – with iron ore, coal and gas coming to the rescue once again.

But there's no traditional fistful of dollars with the gains going to the budget bottom line – though $15 billion of targeted relief going to households Australians hurting from record high energy bills and rising interest rates. 

More good news - wages growth is tipped to rise to 4 percent next year (once again more taxes and more bracket creep) meaning another revenue boost is likely.

Former Treasury official Stephen Anthony says it's a steady no frills budget – but thinks it's a missed opportunity for real action on "budget repair".

While Jim Chalmers maintains the handouts won't fuel inflation, Stephen Anthony says it lays the groundwork for more Reserve Bank rate rises

Meanwhile the debt bomb (which finances the deficit) continues to tick - with gross debt on track to exceed a trillion dollars in a few years.

This budget pays down some of the debt but the pressure is on to reduce it to even faster with interest payments of $60 million a day now one of the single biggest costs the Federal government will confront for years maybe decades to come. 

Forecast for $4b surplus a political "blip"before deficits resume; Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor says "drover's dog" could do it

After days of speculation there's now confirmation that the Federal Budget could be back in surplus for the first time in 15 years.

When he delivers his budget speech tonight, Treasurer Jim Chalmers will forecast a slender surplus of around $4 billion for this financial year.

But while the budget might be back in the black, it's only going to be temporary.

Here's my analysis on ABC Newsradio with Tom Oriti

Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor has reheated a line from Labor history saying "a drover's dog" coul deliver a surplus.

The line comes from 1983 when then Labor leader Bill Hayden was forced to stand down to make way for Bob Hawke saying "a drover's dog" could take Labor to election victory.

Peter Ryan's Budget take - missed opportunity that will worry Reserve Bank

 Here's my analysis when I joined colleague David Lipson on the "PM" budget special

Monday, May 8, 2023

Westpac in $4 billion half year profit, predicts rising mortgage stress but sees soft economic landing

While Jim Chalmers fine-tunes the numbers before tomorrow night's Budget, Australia's oldest bank has delivered a bumper half year profit of four billion dollars.

But Westpac chief executive Peter King predicts the economy will continue to slow this year with households and businesses about to feel the full force mortgage stress from higher interest rates.

Here's my report on The World Today

On Budget eve, what's left to announce? Will there be a lift in Jobseeker or a tiny one-off surplus?

It's Budget eve and with a day to go, the announcements are running thick and fast.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is about to deliver his second Budget and has revealed it will contain cost of living relief to households worth $14.6 billion over four years.

How likely is a shortlived surplus?

What else could the Budget contain and will there be any surprises?

Here's my preview on ABC Newsradio

Friday, May 5, 2023

RBA sees economic growth dipping to 1.2pc by year's end but worries about house price rebound, resilient consumers

The Reserve Bank has downgraded its forecasts for Australia's economy as the impact of aggressive interest rate rises to fight inflation begins to take its toll.


Economic growth is expected a slow to just 1.25 percent by the end of the year with unemployment on track to tick higher to 4pc though inflation is likely to fall from the current 7pc annualised to 4.5pc.

So how close might Australia go to a recession?

My analysis from RBA headquarters in Sydney on The World Today.

US bank crisis fears widen as regional player PacWest Bancorp plunges 50pc

Nerves are starting to ratchet higher that regional banking failures in the United States could morph into a full-blown crisis in the world's biggest economy.

Wall Street stocks ended lower this morning as the fears the health of two small banks add to concerns that the US might fall into a recession later this year.

Los Angeles-based Pacwest Bancorp plunged by 50 percent on fears of a worsening bank crisis.

Another smaller bank Western Alliance Bancorp dived as much as 60 percent after an unverified report said it was looking for a buyer.

My analysis from this morning on ABC Newsradio with Thomas Oriti 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

National Australia Bank boss Ross McEwan "surprised" by Reserve Bank's 11th rate hike; delivers $4b half year profit

National Australia Bank chief executive Ross McEwan says there are still few signs of mortgage stress despite eleven interest rate rises over the past year.

But Mr McEwan says there's evidence that households in general are hurting from the rising cost of living and cutting budgets to make ends meet.

The NAB this morning delivered a 17 percent rise in cash profit to just over $4 billion dollars while noting the impact from Reserve Bank rate hikes was more evident.

Ross McEwan also told me he was surprised by the Reserve Bank's rate rise on Tuesday.

Jobseeker needs to rise says Deloitte Access Economics as Treasurer crunches Budget, ponders possible (shortlived) surplus

As we've been hearing, Treasurer Jim Chalmers is under growing pressure to provide relief to struggling areas of society when he delivers the Federal Budget next Tuesday.

One contentious area is the Jobseeker payment and whether that can be raised to a liveable level to deal with the rising cost of living.

The treasury forecaster Deloitte Access Economics is the latest number cruncher to say Jim Chalmers needs to "do it".

I speak with Deloitte Access Economics partner Stephen Smith

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Lowe blow - RBA governor warns of more rate hikes to confront entrenched inflation

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has refused to rule out another interest rate rise after yesterday's shock hike of a quarter of a percentage point stunned economists and financial markets.

Mr Lowe has reiterated that inflation remains public enemy number one warning the central bank will act again to ensure higher consumer prices don't become entrenched in the nation's psychology.

Speaking at an RBA dinner in Perth last night, Mr Lowe seemed alarmed about sticky services inflation and rising real estate prices after the shortlived "pause" in April.

I speak on the ABC's AM program

My analysis with Tom Oriti on ABC Newsradio

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Shock rate rise - Reserve Bank wrongfoots market economists with eleventh rate rise to 3.85pc warning of more to come if inflation becomes entrenched

The Reserve Bank has shocked economists and financial markets by raising interest rates by 0.25 percentage points to 3.85 percent - the eleventh in a year.

Here's my breaking news coverage for the Perth edition of The World Today

Here's the live coverage on the ABC News Channel as the decision hit.

Qantas "succession" - veteran CEO Alan Joyce steps down for airline's first female boss Vanessa Hudson

After months of speculation, Qantas has named a successor to chief executive Alan Joyce who's leaving the airline after fifteen turbulent years in one of aviation's hottest seats.

Vanessa Hudson - currently chief financial officer at Qantas - will become the airline's first female C-E-O when Alan Joyce steps down at the end of the year.

Here's my coverage on The World Today

Flash-in-the-pan surplus in sight but budget gloom remains as Jim Chalmers grapples with blowouts

A week out from the Federal Budget, there are optimistic forecasts that Treasurer Jim Chalmers might find himself with a small - albeit temporary - surplus by the end of the year.

That would be a remarkable turnaround from the dark days of the pandemic where supersized deficits stretched out over the horizon.

But the good fortune from windfall commodity prices will be shortlived as the federal government grapples with spending blowouts for programs like the NDIS.

I speak with econmist and Treasury watcher Chris Richardson on the ABC's AM program

Monday, May 1, 2023

Reserve Bank rates decision to be "a close call" but pause likely to continue

There'll a critical focus on housing tomorrow when the Reserve Bank board makes it's next decision on the direction on interest rates.

Money markets see a near certainty the RBA will continue month's rates freeze - but that could be a close call.

I speak on The World Today with Sally Sara

Friday, April 28, 2023

Australia a "sitting duck" for cyber hackers, Blackberry chief warns

One of the world's biggest cybersecurity firms is warning that outdated technologies leave Australian businesses exposed to cyber attacks from criminal groups and hostile states.

Blackberry- once known for it's early smartphones in the pre Iphone era - is now in the business of thwarting cyber attacks and warns Australia is more than vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks from hostile nationals and criminal groups.

I speak with Blackberry president of cybersecurity John Giamatteo who's visiting Australia

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Inflation falls in March quarter - but not enough for soothe Reserve Bank nerves

There are growing signs that inflation is continuing to fall from its recent runaway levels with the headline rate falling to seven percent over the year.

But while that's no doubt good news is there still a risk the Reserve Bank will be forced to raise interest rates once again at next Tuesday's board meeting?

Analysis from ABC's Peter Ryan

Reserve Bank interest rates freeze to continue - if inflation eases

Economists - and anyone dealing with higher mortgage repayments - will be watching the latest quarterly inflation figures out today.

The Consumer Price Index is likely to show inflation grew by 1,3 percent in the first quarter of this year down from 1.9 percent in the previous reading.

That would see annual inflation running at a slower pace of 6.9 percent, sharply lower than the current runaway level of 7.8 percent year on year.

Signs of falling inflation could see the Reserve Bank continue its freeze on official interest rates at next Tuesday's board meeting.

Friday, April 21, 2023

What does the RBA overhaul mean for stressed borrowers? Not much at least in the short term

With so much fanfare about the overhaul recommended in the Reserve Bank review, borrowers are no doubt wondering what it means for interest rates and higher mortgage repayments.

The answer is "probably not much" - at least initially with the changes expected to take not just months but a couple of years to implement.

But Pradeep Phillip head of Deloitte Access Economics told me that rather than thinking about the short term, borrowers will eventually be better off with a Reserve Bank that's better equipped to deal with challenging economic times

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Independent review into Reserve Bank recommends sweeping changes

 Here's my analysis on the ABC's "PM" program

Philip Lowe future in doubt as Reserve Bank review criticises guidance of near zero rates til 2024

The much-anticipated review into the Reserve Bank has delivered scathing criticism of governor Philip Lowe's signal during pandemic that interest rates could stay near zero until 2024.

The review says Mr Lowe's forward guidance carried a "significant reputational risk" despite signs of rising inflation and warnings the economy was bouncing back to life.

The sharp criticism - among a range of recommendations designed to overhaul to the RBA - cast doubt on whether Philip Lowe will be reappointed for a second term.

Reserve Bank review critical of governor Philip Lowe's 2024 near rates signal - special update for Perth edition of AM

The much-anticipated review into the Reserve Bank has delivered scathing criticism of governor Philip Lowe's signal during pandemic that interest rates could stay near zero until 2024.

The review says Mr Lowe's forward guidance carried a "significant reputational risk" despite signs of rising inflation and warnings the economic was bouncing back.

The sharp criticism - among a range of recommendations designed to overhaul to the RBA - cast doubt on whether Philip Lowe will be reappointed for a second term.

Here's my initial reading of the Review for the Perth edition of AM

Philip Lowe's 2024 near zero rates guidance slammed by independent review into Reserve Bank


Reserve Bank facing massive shakeup; ASIC tells banks to lift their game in helping scam victims

After nine months in the making, the much-anticipated review into the Reserve Bank will be released later this morning.

An independent panel is likely to recommend a dramatic shakeup in the way the RBA operates - overhauling the RBA board and members who've signed off on ten consectutive interest rate rises since May.

The findings of the review could also disrupt the career RBA governor Philip Lowe after his ill-fated comment the interest rates would stay near zero until 2024.

Also - the big four banks have been put on notice over the way they deal with scams which cost their customers more than half a billion dollars last year alone.

The corporate regulator ASIC has warned banks to lift their game after an investigation showed scam victims aren't always well supported and that compensation rates are too low.

Here's my coverage on the ABC's AM program

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

April decision to “pause” rate hiking strategy a close call, Reserve Bank minutes reveal

Senior Business Correspondent Peter Ryan

The Reserve Bank has revealed its decision to pause its aggressive interest rate hiking strategy was a close call while warning that more hikes might be needed to tame inflation.

In the minutes from its April 4 meeting where the cash rate was frozen at 3.6 percent, board members debated the case to impose another 0.25 percentage point increase noting that inflation “remained too high” with the labour market “very tight”.

It was argued that forecasts for inflation not to return to the 2 to 3 percent target band until mid-2025 were inconsistent with the Board’s mandate to tolerate a slower return to the zone.

“Members considered the argument that .. it was better to continue to raise interest rates to ensure inflation is brought back to target faster,” the minutes say.

“Monetary policy could be eased quickly if an adverse shock caused inflation and economic activity to slow more rapidly than forecast.”

In addition, an upgrade in projections to population growth raised concerns about “significant pressure” in capital stocks especially housing “which in turn could manifest in higher consumer prices.”

“Although higher immigration might reduce wage pressures .. members noted that the net effect of a sudden surge in population growth could be somewhat inflationary for a period”.

The minutes also show jitters about an increased risk of larger wage increases in parts of the economy, including the public sector.

However, the Board ultimately decided to “pause” after ten consecutive increases since May 2022 because policy had been “tightened significantly in a short period”.

The Board agreed on a wait and see approached given that the “full effects .. on the economy are yet to be observed given the lags in the transmission of monetary policy”.

Members noted that the rate rises had contributed to a slowdown in the housing market, a material slowing in consumption and “financial pressure for a segment of households with housing loans”.

However, the minutes show a commitment from the RBA board to do whatever it takes to tame inflation warning that more rate hikes were possible.

“Members observed it was important to be clear that monetary policy might need to be tightened at subsequent meetings and that the purpose of pausing at this meeting was to allow time to gather more information.”

A potential trigger for a review of the pause is next week’s quarterly inflation reading (CPI) which will be “valuable in reassessing the economic outlook and the extent to which monetary policy would need to be tightened further.”

While global developments weigh on future cash rate decisions, the Board said that concerns about the stability of banks in the US and Europe were not a factor in the decision to freeze rates.

“The strength of the Australian banking sector meant that financial system resilience was not a consideration in the decision to pause.”

The Reserve Bank board’s next meeting on May 2 will be closely watched with money markets tipping another pause in rate rises.

Consumer recession risk grows as Reserve Bank rate rises hit hard - Deloitte Access Economics warning

A top economic forecaster is warning the Reserve Bank is tempting fate with more interest rate rises and predicts the hikes delivered so far will plunge Australia into a consumer recession later this year. 

Deloitte Access Economics says the nation is facing the weakest economic growth since the 1990s recession with households reeling from the twin fronts of higher mortgage repayments and surging rents.

I speak on AM with Deloitte Access Economics partner Stephen Smith

Monday, April 17, 2023

Alarming surge in scams with Australians fleeced $3.1 billion in 2022 - crooked target Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities

The consumer watchdog has revealed an alarming rise in scams with unsuspecting Australians fleeced more than three billion dollars last year.

That's a staggering 80 percent increase from 2021 with the bulk of losses from dodgy investment scams that sound authentic as crooks become more sophisticated.

I speak with ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe on ABC NewsRadio

Friday, April 14, 2023

Could rates reprieve survive as Australia's jobs market continues to run hot?

Just last week, households were breathing a little easier after the Reserve Bank decided to freeze its aggressive interest rate hiking strategy.

But could that reprieve be shortlived after fresh evidence that Australia's jobs market continues to run hot despite ten consecutive rate rises?

I speak on ABC Newsradio

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Resilient jobs market stokes May rate rise risk as unemployment stays at 50 year low of 3.5pc

Australia's jobs market is continuing to run hot despite the impact of ten consecutive interest rate rises. 

Official figures show that rather than ticking higher to 3.6pc in March, the unemployment rate remained steady at the 50 year low of 3.5pc. 

With the labour force still strong, what will this do to the Reserve Bank's hopes to maintain it's interest rates "pause"? 

Here's my analysis on The World Today

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Global recession risks growing, International Monetary Fund warns

The International Monetary Fund is warning that the risk of recession in many countries is growing as rising interest rates and fears of a banking crisis rock the global economy.

And it's becoming clear Australia won't be spared from any fallout with economic growth downgraded to just 1.6 percent this year  providing a bleak backdrop to next month's Federal Budget.

Here's my analysis on the AM program

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Jim Chalmers is continuing to warn of the worst global growth conditions in thirty years.

With the Federal Budget just a month away, Treasurer Jim Chalmers is continuing to warn of the worst global growth conditions in thirty years.

And that inevitably means hard spending decisions will be outlined in the Budget papers as the task of "budget repair" looms larges after massive debt built up during the pandemic.

I speak on ABC Newsradio

Monday, April 3, 2023

Economists split on whether Reserve Bank will freeze rates as inflation falls

Will they or won't they?

That's the big question as the Reserve Bank considers a possible "pause" in its so-far agggressive interest rate hiking strategy - ten in a row since last May.

LISTEN here for my analysis

Economists are split on whether we'll get another rate rise when the RBA board meets tomorrow - so no doubt a lot of anticipation given soaring mortgage repayments and widespread bill shock from the higher cost of living.

Economists from the big four banks are split on whether the RBA will slam on the brakes 

ANZ and the National Australia Bank are tipping rates to rise by another quarter of a percentage point while Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank predict a rates will go on hold.

While economists are on a knife edge, money markets are factoring in a 100 percent chance of a rates "pause" after annual inflation dipped to 6.8 percent - tentative evidence that inflation is falling and is heading back towards the RBA's 2 to 3 percent target band.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Will the Reserve Bank "pause" so far aggressive rate hiking strategy next week? Money markets now see a 100pc likelihood


(Check the date!) - Virgin Australia to introduce revolutionary inflight dry cleaning service


Philip Lowe career on the line with independent Reserve Bank review to recommend seismic shakeup

After more than six months in the making, the much anticipated review into the Reserve Bank will be handed to Treasurer Jim Chalmers later today.

The independent probe is likely to recommend a dramatic shakeup in the way the RBA operates and could overhaul the role of the RBA board members who've signed off on ten consectutive interest rate rises since May.

The findings of the review could also end the career RBA governor Philip Lowe after his ill-fated comment the interest rates would stay near zero until 2024.

Economist Warren Hogan says Mr Lowe probably won't survive but reckons the RBA board should have intervened to rein the career-defining 2024 comment in,

Here's my analysis on the ABC's AM program and ABC News On Demand

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Bank customers warned on rise of highly sophisticated scammers with $20m drained in 2022

Most people have almost certainly received unsolicated text messages, emails or direct phone calls from scammers claiming to be from banks.

Now there's a major warning from the consumer watchdog that bank impersonation scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and that crooks are using the latest technology to trick victims into handing over private personal information - which saw one man allow half a million dollars to be drained from his bank account.

To get an idea of just how convincing these scams are - take a listen to this excerpt from a call intercepted by Westpac when a customer was almost conned by a very realistic call before realising it was probably a scam.

Here's my report on the ABC's The World Today and later on ABC Newsradio

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Inflation dips to 6.8pc in the year to February. Could the Reserve Bank now freeze interest rates at April 4 meeting?

The rising cost of living has plunged many households into crisis over the past year especially with surging mortgage repayments from higher interest rates.

But could inflation now be at a turning point to allow the Reserve Bank to consider pausing it's so-far aggressive rate rising strategy?

Official figures out this lunchtime show monthly inflation is beginning to ease - down to 6.8pc in the year to February.

But will that be enough for an interest rates "freeze" at next week's Reserve Bank board meeting? 

My analysis on The World Today

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The head of Australia's banking regulator has declared local banks are safe and ready to withstand any fallout from a wider financial crisis in the United States.

The latest reassurance comes from APRA chairman John Lonsdale comes as the US Treasury Secretary is being pressured to introduce a "blanket" guarantee to restore confidence that all bank deposits are protected.

Here's my live report on The World Today

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe says interest rate pause is "closer"

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has acknowledged for the first time that he's closer to pausing further interest rate rises. 

Mr Lowe has cited the pressure on households after ten consecutive interest rate rises eat into finances and take a record share of wages. 

So just when might the rate rises stop?

Here's my report on The World Today.

Earlier, Treasurer Jim Chalmers acknowledged the softer language but wouldn't be drawn on when the RBA might pause rate hikes.

Also, Betashares chief economist David Bassanese tips a rate cut on Melbourne Cup Day when the RBA board holds its November meeting.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Reserve Bank to raise cash rate again - but Westpac's Bill Evans sees rate cuts on horizon

Despite the household pain from rising mortgage stress, the Reserve Bank is on track to deliver its tenth consecutive interest rate hike later today. 

That would take the official cash rate to 3.6 percent - the highest level in more than a decade.

So how far will the RBA need to go in bringing inflation down?

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans told me the RBA might cut rates early next year - but only if inflation comes down to around 4 percent.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Rapid letters declines forces Australia Post shakeup - I speak with chief executive Paul Graham

When was the last time you posted a letter or visited a post office?

Not very often - according to a consultation paper released today which warns the rapid decline of Australia Post's letters business is financially "unsustainable".

Hauling Australia Post into the 21st century could mean increasing the price of postage stamps and cutting back daily letter deliveries.

Here's our coverage on The World Today where I speak with Australia Post chief executive Paul Graham

Late mail - Australia Post shakeup to rewrite Community Service Obligation as letter decline deepens

Australia Post is being hauled into the 21st century as the federal government rushes to make it financially sustainable given the record decline in traditional letter deliveries.

A discussion paper released today warns the institution needs a major shakeup and that its Community Service Obligation to ensure delivery of letters nationwide but especially rural and remote Australia is badly outdated.

So what can Australia Post do to survive and adapt to change times?

I speak with Communications Minister Michelle Rowland on AM and ABC Newsradio

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Economy continues to expand but at a slower pace as inflation, rate rises bite

Australia's economy grew 0.5 per cent in the final three months of 2022, according to Bureau of Statistics figures. 

While household spending continued to rise at the end of last year, the growth rate has started to slow in the face of rising interest rates and high inflation. 

Also the war over changes to superannuation is intensifying as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton focsussed in broken promises and class warfare.

Here's my coverage from The World Today

"shifting the goalposts on a long term investment" - angst over superannuation changes

Not surprisingly, Australians with superannuation balances of more than three million dollars perceived as being wealthy are unhappy about paying more tax on their nest egg's earnings from mid-2025.

While the sudden change is broadly welcomed as necessary, there are complaints that the super goal posts have been moved on what's meant to be a long term investment.

Tony Negline is superannuation leader from Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand - and he speaking with our senior business correspondent Peter Ryan.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Super tax breaks on balances above $3m to be trimmed - to pay 30pc tax up from 15pc

The Federal Government has announced a much anticipated change to the superannuation system. 

It wants to cap tax concessions on super balances of more than $3 million, a move it says will affect only half-a-percent of the population or around 80,000 people.

The proposed reform could boost the budget coffers by up to $2 billion a year.

But will there be serious political implications for the Labor government, which was elected on a promise it wouldn't change super laws?

Here's the breaking news on The World Today

Earlier - 30 minutes before the big announcement - I was predicting there would be a "softening up" of Australians ahead of any changes.

Two Reserve Bank board members won't be reappointed as "renewal" gets underway

A shakeup on the board of the Reserve Bank is starting to get underway ahead of a critical review that could shorten or even end the long career of governor Philip Lowe.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed that two board members - Wendy Craik and Mark Barnaba - won't be reappointed making way for wider boardroom "renewal" at the RBA later this year.

Both have told Treasurer Jim Chalmers they won't be seeking reappointment.

There's no suggestion they were pushed but to quote Mr Chalmers they were "prepared not to be considered"

I speak with economist Warren Hogan who says there should be conquences for RBA calls, including a signal that the cash rate would remain low until 2024.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Qantas in billion dollar profit as Alan Joyce sees "revenge travel" after pandemic losses. Mr Joyce reaffirmed his intention to remain CEO after a 15 year run

Qantas has revealed an extraordinary billion-dollar half-year-profit as it bounces back from huge losses racked up during the pandemic. 

The airline - which has been strongly criticised for delayed flights and lost baggage - is now in the midst of massive consumer demand, shrugging off concerns that higher living costs will make travellers think twice about jumping on a plane. 

The turnaround has also emboldened chief executive Alan Joyce who after 15 years in the job is rejecting calls for him to retire.

I spoke with Alan Joyce on The World Today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Chicken replaces red meat as consumers feel inflation heat. Wages edge up, but with inflation eats away at real spending power.

Wages grew by 0.8 percent in the most recent quarter making 3.3 percent over the year. 

But do consumers feel any richer as inflation bites and interest rates rise?

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci says more families are eating at home and buying more chicken than red meat. 

Dominos Pizza boss Don Meij says business remains bouyant despite the higher production and labour costs.

Here's my coverage on The World Today

Here's my preview for ABC News On Demand where I ask - are you feeling any wealthier today?