Overnight news saw UK unemployment unchanged at 5.5% of the relevant workforce, while average wages rose by 4.2%. Employment in the euro-zone increased by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2006 (1.6% for the year). Britain and the EU have both exhibited a strong bias toward monetary policy tightening recently, and these figures should not alter this too much. More in World Economy.
Australia’s latest unemployment figures were released this morning, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February actually rose to 4.6% (the first rise since May ’06) — higher than the 4.5% expected by economists.
While many will proclaim this to release pressure on the RBA, the Australian economy actually added another 22,000 jobs in February (293,800 for the year!), while the amount of unemployed Australians increased by just 9,500. The participation rate inched higher at 64.9%.
Onto the ongoing issue of climate change, Matthew Warren reports for The Oz:
Australia’s top 100 companies have opted for emissions trading ahead of a carbon tax as the most efficient way to reduce domestic and global greenhouse gases.
But the Business Council of Australia warns the task of tackling climate change is enormous and will be hindered, not helped, by quick-fix solutions such as banning coal or other major greenhouse emitters.
The BCA publication accepts the reality of climate change driven by human activity. So too does Australia’s national newspaper: “The Australian accepts the evidence that global temperatures are rising and the need to take precautionary steps”. To Henry, the precautionary point is the vital one.
The good news is that the great and the good have finally “got” the fact that there may be a problem, and that it may be a big one. The bad news is that science has not yet convinced itself (and therefore the rest of us) that the world is close to a dangerous tipping point, as argued recently by Dr James Hansen, and reported here.
Henry’s sports correspondent, Luke Griffiths, comments further on the emerging problem of drugs in Aussie rules. After campaigning for a more vigilant and transparent drug testing system for some time, he joins the chorus calling for a full inquiry:
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Henry strongly urges the Chief and his counterparts to rethink their decision opposing such an inquiry. Not only would it allow the powers that be to get a true indication of the volume of illicit drug consumption by AFL players, which would allow for more effective prevention, education and punishment strategies, the inquiry could also focus on issues relating to performance enhancing drugs. These are serious issues of which the AFL needs to be constantly aware.
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