Largely blissfully unaware? Australians, it seems, are taking their time about starting to worry. The Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating rose again this week for the third time in a row. The level might be nearly 20 points lower than it was a year ago but it is well off the low point reached in October-November last year.

The pollster believes this week’s rise can be traced back directly to the passage of the Rudd Government’s $42 billion stimulus legislation. Australians are clearly a long way from being at panic stations which perhaps means the consumer climate will be conducive to a fair proportion of the next round of government cash handouts being spent rather than saved. In its perverse way (perverse because the world economy is in its current parlous state because of countries like ours and the United States that have used borrowed money to spend on life’s little luxuries) this will probably be a good thing, at least in the short term. It will be interesting to see the Morgan Confidence Rating when the time comes that the bills run up by our government finally have to be paid!

Cheerful reading. I came across this cheerful little exchange on the blog of The Economist magazine this morning:

Over the past ten years, the S&P 500 is down 50% adjusted for inflation (February 17, 1999 to February 17, 2009). By my calculation, the stock market was down roughly 50%, adjusted for inflation, in the worst ten years of the Great Depression (September 1929 to September 1939). When you add in the fact that real wages were stagnant over the past ten years and debt soared, I think we will look back at the last ten years as a decade of despair. As an optimist, I’m going to bet on the next ten years as being better.

Then these comments:

I’m pretty sure the appropriate analogy for the last ten years is the Roaring Twenties. Inflated asset prices caused by easy credit, a consumption binge followed by a crash only to discover that much of the “progress” of the previous decade had been a mirage. That sounds about right.

Combine both comparisons (blogger’s and genius’s) and our 2009 is their 1929, which would mean we have another 50% to fall in the next 10 years

Hell hath no fury like backbenchers worried about their seat. The problems of Malcolm Turnbull really have nothing to do with the man I won’t mention. The disruption that is now breaking out in the parliamentary Liberal Party is simply an illustration of the growing realisation among its members that not only are they unlikely to win the next election but that some of them might actually lose their seat.

All the pollsters have consistently had Labor doing better than at the last election for over a year now and the swapping of Brendan Nelson for Malcolm Turnbull has not made an iota of difference. By some measures they have even gone backwards.

My guess is that the opinion poll figures will get substantially worse over the next month and the murmurings of discontent of this week will become outright shouts.

Labor starts favourite. The prediction exchanges we use to calculate the Crikey Election Indicators have not started operating yet on the forthcoming Queensland election but the bookmaker Sportingbet currently has Labor favourite at $1.55 to win with the Liberal-Nationals at $2.40. Take out the bookies’ margin and by that assessment Labor is a 61% chance of winning to the LNP’s 39%.

Second place getter the winner. Benjamin Netanyahu now looks almost certain to emerge as the next Prime Minister of Israel even though his Likud party narrowly missed out on winning the greatest number of seats. The Crikey Israeli election indicator has Netanyahu a 95% chance with Tzipi Livni 4% and anyone else at 1%

Peter Fray

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