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Author's Name: Ken Clements
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Ken Clements

Professor Ken Clements

Ken Clements has been at UWA since 1981 as Professor of Economics, and more recently as BHP Research Fellow. He is a generalist economist with interests in international finance, monetary economics and applied micro, including index numbers. His research has been supported by a series of grants from the Australian Research Council and he has published widely including the book Currencies, Commodities and Consumption (Cambridge University Press, 2013, 2015). Since its inception in 1987, he has been active in the annual PhD Conference in Economics and Business, a joint venture between ANU, the University of Melbourne, UQ and UWA.

Subject Area Expertise

International finance; monetary economics; applied micro; index numbers.

Website

http://www.web.uwa.edu.au/people/Ken.Clements


Responses (39)


Western Australian GST deal

Poll 63

April Poll - panellists were asked about the GST deal with Western Australia.  The following two questions were posed: 

"Is the long-standing arrangement broadly the best method of distributing the nationally-collected GST revenue?" and "Should the 2018 changes be kept or scrapped?"

 

NO - We should distribute GST revenue to the states on a per capita basis. This would help mitigate the perverse incentives promoted by the current system. At the same time, the opportunity should be taken to eliminate many of the exceptions to GST, as well as raising the overall rate in order to decrease other taxes.

Not sure


Reintroduction of the Carbon Price

Poll 61

Worried economists call for a carbon price, a tax on coal exports, and ‘green tariffs’ to get Australia on the path to net zero

 

Introduce an economy-wide cap and trade carbon price | Expedite the development of nuclear energy


We can and should keep unemployment below 4%, says our survey of top economists

Poll 60

Australia’s leading economists believe Australia can sustain an unemployment rate as low as 3.75% – much lower than the latest Reserve Bank estimate of 4.25% and the Treasury’s latest estimate of 4.5%.

 

reducing taxes and regulations facing businesses, relaxing industrial relations regulation to allow for greater "flexibility" (as defined by employers), running the economy "hot" for a period (i.e. through low interest rates) in order to give more potential workers some work experience, increase their employability in the long term


Budget 2023

Poll 59

Our panellists were asked the following 2023 budget question: "On May 9, the government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to strike a balance between relief, repair and restraint'.  What grade would you give the budget, given that objective: A, B, C, D, E or F?"

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/

 

Overall rating: E

E

OVERALL COMMENTS: There is substantial scope for improvement of the budget process. Defence, aged care, the NDIS, retirement incomes, resource taxation, electricity prices, and on it goes. All this in addition to macroeconomic issues of debts and deficits. The process is too cluttered for the transparency needed for good public policy. Treasury must have a large team of economists working under great pressures to meet the all-or-nothing deadline. And there are armies of analysts in the market trying to unpick the budget to work out what it means (for them). Rather than a single announcement coving such a sweeping array of areas, a staggered approach would lead to better public understanding, and a freeing up of some of the resources now consumed by the process. It may also lead to better policy and a better-performing economy.


How economists would raise $20 billion per year

Poll 58

When panellests were asked to find an extra A$20 billion per year to fund government priorities like building nuclear submarines and responding to climate change, Australia’s top economists overwhelmingly back land tax, increased resource taxes, an attack on negative gearing and extending the scope of the goods and services tax.

Photo credit by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

 

Efficiency picks: Broaden the set of goods and services captured by the GST Wind back the capital gains exemptions on the family home Wind back deductions for negatively geared properties

Equity is such a slippery concept that it means anything goes when it comes to public policy. Why is my personal option of equity any better/worse than yours?


Leading economists back Federal Government action to curb rising gas and electricity prices

Poll 57

Australia’s top economists have overwhelmingly endorsed intervention to restrain gas and electricity prices, with only three of the 47 leading economists surveyed believing the best thing the government can do is to leave things to the market.

Photo credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

 

.

Unrestricted cash transfers

Western Australia's 15% reservation policy should be scrapped. It is roughly equivalent to an export tax with all the usual distortionary impact. Better to have high energy prices to encourage conservation and look after the environment. If necessary, unrestricted cash transfers would be a lower-cost way to compensate households. Earlier this year the WA government transferred $400 to all residential electricity accounts ? not an unrestricted cash transfer, but it is a move in that direction.


'It’s important not to overreact’: Australia’s top economists on how to fix high inflation

Poll 55

Australia’s top economists are divided about how to tackle ballooning inflation of 6.1% that’s forecast to climb to a three-decade high of 7.75% by the end of the year.

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

 

Reduce the rate of monetary expansion

2%

Most items on your list are non-monetary causes of inflation. These blur the distinction between changes in relative prices and changes in the price level (properly measured). In the longer-term, it is not real factors but monetary factors that determine inflation, such as the ?quantitative easing? (aka monetary expansion) followed by central banks around the world.


Intake of permanent migrants

Poll 52

"What do you think the intake of permanent migrants should be in coming years"

Australia’s leading economists have overwhelmingly endorsed a return to the highest immigration intake on record, saying Australia should aim for at least 190,000 migrants per year as it opens its borders, up from the target of 160,000 per year set ahead of COVID.

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

.

190,000 is about right


Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q4)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 4

"Following the next Federal election, the incoming Federal Government should commission an independent Review of the Reserve Bank of Australia."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

Agree


Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q3)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 3 

"The Reserve Bank has, over the past 5 years, effectively used the tools available to it to achieve its goals of "maintaining the stability of the currency, ensuring full employment and furthering the 'economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia'."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

Agree

7


Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q2)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 2

"When do you expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to next lift its cash rate?"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

.

1


Top Economists see no prolonged high inflation, no rate hike next year (Q1)

Poll 51

Our panellists were asked whether rate hikes would be necessitated in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Despite appearances – especially in the United States – the era of high inflation isn’t set for a comeback in the view of Australia’s leading economists, and most see no need for the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates next year.

Question 1

"The current combination of Australian fiscal and monetary policy poses a serious risk of prolonged above-target inflation."

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

Agree

9

The RBA has substantial economic capabilities, and a reasonably good track record. But a major problem has been monetarising the deficit which threatens the independence of the Bank from government of the day. To maintain independence and credibility, the RBA needs to focus on one thing and one thing only, low and steady inflation. Forget month-to-month gyrations in unemployment, housing booms and busts, the "mood" of the bond market, and all other distractions from what the Bank can control -- inflation over the long term. One item for any Review of the RBA is the composition of the Board. It would benefit from more outside expertise in monetary economics to test, challenge and improve analysis presented by Bank officials.


Australia’s top economists back carbon price, say benefits of net-zero outweigh cost

Poll 50

Ahead of November’s Glasgow climate talks, our panellists were asked

"Australia would likely benefit overall from the national economy transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

An economy-wide carbon price (either via a cap-and-trade scheme or an emissions tax)

Agree


Promoting vaccination uptake in Australia

Poll 49

"What measures should Australian governments adopt to promote demand for vaccination once supply is no longer a constraint?"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

Mandatory vaccination for higher risk occupations;Vaccine passports for higher-risk settings (eg. flights, restaurants, major events);National advertising campaigns;Cash incentives for vaccination;Lotteries with cash or prizes for the vaccinated


Policies to deliver higher wage growth

Poll 48

Our panellists were asked

"Higher wages growth is now a top priority of the RBA in its efforts to sustain stronger economic growth. Please identify the three of these government policies you think would best help deliver higher wages growth".  

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

.

Measures to boost productivity growth;Measures to boost business investment;Reforming industrial rel


Transition to electric cars

Poll 47

This month, our panellists were asked whether Australia should take action to speed the transition to electric cars.

"As part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Australian governments should take action to accelerate the take up, or take no action to accelerate the take up of electric cars"

Photo credit "Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND"

 

.

9

A tax on carbon emissions is the first-best policy. Subsidies/taxes on cars involve a higher social cost.


The Federal Budget May 2021

Poll 46

"On May 11, the government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to 'secure Australia's economic recovery and build for the future'.  What grade would you give the budget given that objective, A, B, C, D, E, F?"

Photo credit Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

 

.

E


October Budget 2020 - preferred four programs

Poll 42 

"The October budget will see the government announce additional policies to support recovery.  Please nominate the four programs you think would be the most effective (for an intervention of a given size) over the next two years"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 

 

Bring forward legislated personal income tax cuts, Corporate tax cuts, Infrastructure projects, More funding for education and training


Does the budget rebuild our economy and create jobs?

Poll 43

"On 6 October, the Government delivered a budget designed, in the Treasurer's words, to 'rebuild our economy and create jobs'.  What grade would you give the budget given the objective?  A, B, C, D, E, F"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 

 

B


The legislated increases in compulsory super contributions should...

Poll 41

"The legislated increases in compulsory super contributions, which are set to climb from 9.5% of wages to 12% over the next five years should...."

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 

 

Be abandoned

8


Government Debt during the COVID19 Crisis

Poll 40

"Governments should provide ongoing fiscal support to boost aggregate demand during the economic crisis and recovery, even if it means a substantial increase in public debt"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 

 

Agree

9


Wage freeze for economic recovery

Poll 39

"A freeze in the minimum wage will support Australia's economic recovery"

Photo credit: Wes Mountain/The ConversationCC BY-ND 

 

Strongly agree

9


Social Distancing Measures, May 2020

Poll 38

"The benefits to Australian society of maintaining social distancing measures sufficient to keep R<1 for COVID-19 are likely to exceed the costs"

 

Strongly agree

9


Motherhood, caring and the careers of Australian women - April 2019

Poll 37

Proposition 1: "Without changes to existing public policy or private sector practice in Australia, motherhood will always negatively affect a woman's career."

Proposition 2: "In Australia, fathers are more restricted than mothers in fulfilling a caring role while in employment."

 

Part 1 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

6

Part 2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

6


Sugar sweetened beverage tax for Australia - July 2018

Poll 31

Proposition 1: "The best economic policy instrument available to policy makers seeking to address obesity and related health issues in Australia is the introduction of a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs)."

Proposition 2: "The health and non-health benefits from a tax on SSBs are likely to outweigh the possible costs felt elsewhere in the economy."

 

1 - Strongly disagree

2 - Strongly disagree


Professional Accreditation of Economists - March 2019

Poll 36

Proposition 1: "Professional accreditation for the economics profession would attract more people to economics as a career."

Proposition 2: "The benefits of professional accreditation for current and prospective economists would exceed any possible costs"

 

Part 1 - Strongly disagree

9

Part 2 - Strongly disagree

9


Congestion pricing - November 2018

 

Strongly agree

9


US corporate tax cuts - March 2018

Poll 27

"The recent US corporate tax cuts will have no impact on investments in and capital flows into Australia."

 

Strongly agree

10


Australian Federal Budget 2018 - Reduce government debt or provide tax cuts? - April 2018

Poll 28

Proposition 1: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio should be a priority for Australian governments."

Proposition 2: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio is a higher priority than income or corporate tax cuts."

 

1 - Disagree

2 - Strongly disagree


Electric vehicles and road-use pricing - June 2018

Poll 30

"Pricing of road-use for electric vehicles should be the same as fossil fuel-powered vehicles."

 

Strongly agree

10


Banking Royal Commission and the Credit Crunch - October 2018

Poll 33

Proposition 1: "There is a significant risk that, either as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry or as a result of the financial institutions' response to those findings, credit will become less readily available to Australian households or businesses."

Proposition 2: "Assuming credit becomes less readily available to Australian households or businesses, this will in turn have adverse consequences for the performance of the Australian economy."

 

1 - Strongly agree

2 - Strongly agree


Gig economy and worker welfare - February 2018

Poll 26

"The wages and conditions of Australian workers providing services in sectors affected by the rapid growth of digital on-demand subcontracting platforms will, on average, be expected to fall without further government intervention."

 

Disagree

5


Journalism as a public good - January 2018

Poll 25

Proposition 1: "The modern phenomena of information overload and social-media-fuelled 'fake news' bring into focus the value of quality journalism. Quality journalism has a public-good dimension that warrants public support."

Proposition 2: "The Australian government presently provides funding for the ABC and SBS, Australia's independent public broadcasters. The Australian government should increase its financial support of quality journalism."

 

1 - Agree

2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)


Same sex marriage - November 2017

Poll 24

"Assuming that the law will be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, this will generate net economic benefits for the nation as a whole over the next 10 years."

 

Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

6


Robots, artificial intelligence and the 'future of work' - October 2017

Poll 23

Question A: "Holding labor market institutions and job training fixed, rising use of robots and artificial intelligence is likely to increase substantially the number of workers in Australia who are unemployed for long periods."

Question B: "Rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in Australia is likely to create benefits large enough that they could be used to compensate those workers who are substantially negatively affected for their lost wages."

 

A - Disagree

B - Agree


Public borrowing for infrastructure investment - September 2017

Poll 22

"As interest rates are at low levels by historical standards, federal and state governments, despite their public debt levels, should be borrowing more than they currently are to invest in infrastructure"

 

Strongly agree

10


The Finkel Review - August 2017

Poll 21

"The Finkel Review has recommended a mandatory certificate scheme that obliges electricity retailers to purchase a certain proportion of the electricity they sell from sources of electricity whose emission intensity is below a defined level. This is preferable to conventional approaches to the pricing of externalities, such as an emission tax or cap and trade scheme."

 

Disagree

10