It seems the Paris-based OECD has raised its leading indicator of economic growth for the fifth month in a row! (You’d think these guys would get ahead of the game and adjust for their evident tendency to underestimate, but this is apparently “just not done”, as Thomas the Tank Engine was advised by another engine on the Island of Sodor all those years ago.)

The embarrassing forecasting blunders follow “growing evidence that the US economy is lifting despite problems in its housing market”.

David Uren reports for The Oz:

The Japanese economy, which had been slowing, is also expected to pick up over coming months.

The OECD also said that key emerging economies – China, India, Russia and Brazil [The BRICs] – were continuing their strong growth.

World growth is pushing commodity prices higher, with the oil price close to record levels, reaching $US78 a barrel in New York on Friday.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because you read about it a week ago here.

The polls – Labor still well ahead

None of the good economic news seems to be helping Mr Howard and the splendid members of the Federal Liberal Party (yet).

Echoing the latest Morgan Poll, today’s Newspoll shows Labor still as far ahead as one of those gee gees that cost Henry a small fortune at the weekend. The splendid folk at Ozpolitics have again put things into perspective:

When I first glanced at today’s headlines – Howard checks Rudd’s march – Kevin’s sizzle not snag-free – Howard finds fertile ground for support – I was expecting to read about a polling improvement for the Howard Government.

What I found was a flat line. The national two-party preferred vote share prediction was unchanged on the previous Newspoll: 56 to 44 in Labor’s favour. The Coalition’s predicted primary vote was unchanged on 39 per cent. Labor’s primary vote prediction had risen two points to 48 per cent. As Dennis Shanahan noted, “Rudd would win handsomely with these numbers”.

Worryingly for the Coalition, with both the most recent Newspoll and Morgan polls, we are perhaps seeing the trend moving average return to the Coalition since March 2007 beginning to slow. This trend must average around a percentage point per month between now and a late 2007 election for the Coalition to be in a competitive position. An earlier election would require a faster trend.

Consumer Confidence

Yesterday saw the release of the July Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating, which showed a 4.5 point jump to a two-and-a-half year high of 126.8 – an understandable result given the overall strength of the Australian economy and the record high Australian dollar.

Consumers have received more good news since interviewing was conducted on 30 June/1 July, with the RBA last week announcing – against Henry’s better judgement – that interest rates will remain unchanged at 6.25%.

As pollster Gary Morgan pointed out yesterday, such high confidence in the economy must be a good sign for the incumbent Government:

Although the ALP are well ahead in the latest Morgan Poll – both face-to-face and telephone – with confidence at such an elevated level, and tax cuts coming into effect in the coming weeks, this further emphasises the job Labor has in convincing voters that they are as economically competent as the Coalition Government.

Henry is of the opinion that the Federal election will be much closer than the current polls suggest because when it comes down to actually placing their vote, electors will be largely guided by their hip pocket!

Read more at Henry Thornton.