Former
shadow finance minister Bob McMullan did some sterling work before the last
election highlighting Australia’s truly terrifying level of personal debt. The
wonks noticed, but in the interest rates scare campaign that followed, most
people decided it was better not to think about it.

Today,
interest rates are in the news again. The Reserve Bank left them unchanged for
the 13th month in a row yesterday, but there are warnings the Reserve may raise rates over coming months if the signs of
renewed strength in the economy are confirmed .

The Australian has Deutsche Bank chief economist Tony Meer saying the market has become
complacent about interest rates remaining fixed for the rest of the year,
despite suggestions from the Reserve that the next move in rates is more likely
to be a rise, not a fall. It’s a slow burn. Like the wonderful world of
WorkChoices. How might the two combine?

Hawker
Britton are flogging some research on mortgage rates. Most Australians with a
mortgage felt they could handle a modest lift in rates, but there was a
difference in attitudes between women and men, Sydney Morning Herald economics
writer Matt Wade reports:

Interest rates have women spooked. Almost one in three women with a
mortgage is worried the family finances will not cope with a 0.5 percentage
point interest rate rise, a much higher proportion than men…

While 30% of women said they would have “trouble paying the mortgage” if rates
rose by 0.5 percentage point, just 12 per cent of men said they were worried…

That could raise a bundle of interesting questions. It’s the
horny-handed blokes who have traditionally been unionists. But are women
workers in areas more vulnerable to the IR changes? How might this make them
feel about their future financial security?

Peter Costello has recently been keen to show his feminine side. Is
Kimbo moisturising?

Peter Fray

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