Find a nurse. There’s one piece of good advice for political parties in a US Gallup poll this week: find a nurse to be your candidate.

Americans rating the honesty and ethical standards of 21 professions put nurses clearly on top with two other medical professions — pharmacists and doctors — making up the top three. At the other end of the spectrum, Americans give the least positive honesty and ethics ratings to members of Congress, lobbyists, car salespeople, and telemarketers.

The reputation of American politicians is clearly getting worse. In this latest survey a record high 64% of people asked to rate honesty and ethical standards as one of very high, high, average, low or very low answered low or very low.

That 64% very low or low figure has only been matched once before in this annual Gallup review of the standing of professions – lobbyists in 2008. The 7% very high or high figure is the lowest ever for US politicians.

In Australia Roy Morgan Research similarly reviews the professions and back in 1998 both federal and state politicians also had only 7% of respondents giving them very high or high marks. There has been a slight improvement since then but the figures from March this year suggest they are sliding again.

Note: Gallup in the US has people giving 26% of journalists a very high or high rating. In Australia Morgan had TV reporters at 14% and newspaper journalists on a lowly 11%.

Another sign of Australian resilience. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development released its composite leading indicators (CLI’s) for the world’s economies overnight and yet again Australia is one of the few with any reason at all for optimism.

The CLIs for Canada, China and the United States continue pointing to slowdowns in economic activity around long term trends but with only marginal declines compared to last month. The CLIs for Japan and Russia point to economic activity above long term trend, with a marginal slowdown for Russia, and a slightly stronger, but still moderate slowdown for Japan.

In Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Euro area, as a whole, the CLIs continue pointing strongly to economic activity falling below long term trend.

Australia, meanwhile, continues to hover above the normal growth level indicated by 100.

Note: there’s an explanation of the dotted red line — the reference series — on the OECD website here. The reference series used by the OECD is the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The timeliness of IIP is typically worse than those of CLI input series.

Not that there was any joy in the dwelling commencements figures released this morning by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

  • The trend estimate for the total number of dwelling units commenced fell 3.3% in the September quarter 2011 following a fall of 2.5% in the June quarter 2011.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for the total number of dwelling units commenced fell 6.8% in the September quarter following a fall of 4.1% in the June quarter.

Peter Fray

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