The meeting of finance ministers of APEC member nations has begun in Hanoi. The chief aims are to find ways to restart the Doha world trade talks and address global trade imbalances. After the APEC meeting, the Treasurer will visit South Africa to discuss the priorities and work programme of the Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors with Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and to examine first hand the development challenges facing Africa. The Treasurer’s overseas trip includes attendance at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Annual Meetings in Singapore on 19-20 September.

While the Treasurer is away, Labor seems to be racking up some points. At least The Oz today has a couple of articles that makes this claim. The strongest case is made by Michael Costello, who claims “Treasurer is losing his lustre”.

A large part of this claim is based on the tangle the gummint has got into on the high price of houses and therefore of interest payments. Allowing an asset boom to persist is the root cause of this but, as the PM famously said, people do not badger him in the streets because their assets have greatly increased in value.

Oil is again at centre-stage, however much of the talk is in regards to a potential price fall, rather than the rises we’re all used to. Since the July peak, the price of oil per barrel has fallen around $10 (US$67.32 a barrel overnight), mainly attributed to the cooling in Middle-Eastern tensions and the relatively uneventful hurricane season in the US. With the ‘summer driving season’ coming to an end in the US, on top of reports of increasing gasoline stocks, there is much potential for further price decreases. However, Henry is only too aware of the volatility in the oil market, and would never predict the unpredictable.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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