Bruce Baird, the chairman of the House of Representative Economics
Committee has put the squeeze on Reserve Bank board members, saying here
that everyone but the chairman and governor should zip their lips on
interest rate speculation. No wonder, with the news also leaking out
that the Bank was so concerned about the Coalition’s election campaign
claims about interest rates – that they were exaggerated and some were
factually wrong – that it asked the Electoral Commission to investigate
(see here).

Not everyone has been gagged, and one researcher directs the Crikey
community to two papers on housing and capital. “While the housing
wealth gap between owners and renters has indeed grown much wider,” our
source writes, “the wealth gap as a whole has not widened.” This is
mainly due to compulsory super adding to the assets of those towards
the bottom end of the distribution, as you can see from the National
Centre for Social and Economic Modelling paper Trends in Australian Wealth and a Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research publication, The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia.

Wealth inequality does dwarf income inequality, they say – but add that
at least the gap isn’t widening. Wealth inequality, like income
inequality, has remained stable over the last 10 years. There is one
caveat, however – the need to think more about how to enable more
people to get access to property assets (and not worry so much about
differences in what people earn in incomes). Do negative gearing and
home-purchasing subsidies to the rich do this?

Peter Fray

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