Prediction watch. I have speculated before about the worth of all these predictions by the economists who keep bobbing up on our television screens, with voices on the radio and words in the newspapers. My subjective view is that they peddle a load of codswallop and I recall a survey in the London Economist that showed a person predicting that what happened last year would happen in the next year did better than those using their sophisticated economic models. To put my skepticism to the test I will now keep a little prediction watch noting what the experts say will happen and we can judge them on the day of reckoning. Here are two to start off with:

27 May 2008: The co-head of ANZ’s Australian Economics Research, Sally Auld predicts: The RBA will lift rates by 0.25 of a per cent in August, and by the same again probably in November. Core inflation to continue to worsen, reaching a peak of 4.9 per cent in the second half of this year.

26 May 2008: Glenn Milne, The Australian predicts: Labor will lose the Gippsland by-election. “Last week the Prime Minister said it would be impossible for Labor to win Gippsland. Courtesy of McCubbin, it just got a whole lot more impossible. If that’s possible. Beautiful Losers, indeed. Rudd, like Howard before him, is about to learn there’s nothing beautiful about losing.”

If you notice a prediction about politics or economics please let me know by email to [email protected]

At least he has a spine. Whatever else you might think of Malcolm Turnbull you have to admit the boy has got a spine. He is the first politician I have heard with the courage to come out and say anything remotely complimentary about artist Bill Henson, even admitting to owning a couple of his works himself.

Don’t be yellow Kevvie. Be green. Politicians in many parts of the world, not just those in Australia, are getting a taste at the moment of just how difficult it will be to move voters from being concerned about global warming to actually doing something about it. Rising petrol prices to reduce consumption are part and parcel of any meaningful policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions yet motorists are screaming about the modest rises caused by a jump in crude oil prices. Governments are running scared at the protests and even Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who in theory has two and a half years before an election, is giving signals indicating that government might reduce its tax take to ease the burden. The Coalition Opposition, which has never been a whole hearted believer in global warming in the first place and now can afford to be all care and no responsibility, wants five cents a litre taken off the excise immediately. What I am waiting for is a whole hearted attack on both government and opposition by the Greens as they preach the necessity for ever higher petrol prices so that the planet is saved. Environmentalists have started to take that approach in the United Kingdom where Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown is under similar pressure to Mr Rudd by angry motorists.

The Daily Reality Check

The printed versions are full of bad news for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this morning with page one of the Adelaide Advertiser and the Herald Sun pretty typical of the two fronts of criticism. Featuring petrol price rises was undoubtedly a clever thing to do during an election campaign when in opposition but it does leave you open to a charge of hypocrisy when you become the government and the rises keep occurring. Geese and ganders get treated alike. Then there are the problems that come from courting famous people as friends. Having basked in reflected glory you are also vulnerable to reflected criticism.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

What the world is reading on the net

The time has come for a little light relief. In China the grim news of earthquakes and entreaties by the nation’s leaders for the people to be brave are replaced this morning by s-x in the City. The American contribution to world culture is currently the most read item on the website of The People’s Daily.

Quote of the Day:

The potential prosecution of one of our most respected artists is no way to build a Creative Australia, and does untold damage to our cultural reputation. We should remember that an important index of social freedom, in earlier times or in repressive regimes elsewhere in the world, is how artists and art are treated by the state.

— Members of the Creative Australia Group at the 2020 Summit in a letter to Australian political leaders.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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