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Author's Name: Julie Toth
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Julie Toth

Julie Toth

Julie heads the Australian Industry Group’s economics team, producing economics research, comment and policy advice for Ai Group and its members. Julie oversees Ai Group’s highly regarded monthly ‘performance of industry’ surveys and its economics research program. She is an active participant in Australia’s national business, industry and economic policy conversations and consultation processes.

In addition to her role at Ai Group, Julie is an Adjunct Professor of Economics for the MBA program at Deakin University’s Business School. She is an advisory board member for the economics faculty at Deakin University and a panel member of the Melbourne Economic Forum, hosted by the University of Melbourne.

Julie has more than two decades of experience in Australian economic policy and research, working across the public and private sectors. Prior to joining Ai Group in 2012, Julie held senior economics roles with the ANZ Bank, the Productivity Commission, the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research and other Federal Government agencies.

Julie holds a Master of Industrial Relations and Labour Economics (Monash University), a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) (University of Melbourne) and a Bachelor of Arts (University of Melbourne).

Subject Area Expertise

Labour economics, industrial relations, industry & regulatory economics, migration, tax.

Website

https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-toth-4221649b?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile


Responses (19)


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 - Strongly agree

10

Public policy and workplace practices affect our experiences of parenthood in a myriad of ways including: childcare provision, school systems, welfare entitlements, employment laws, cultural norms and more. Too many of the relevant areas of policy, practice and attitude are still very strongly gendered.

Part 2 - Strongly agree

10


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 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

10

Part 2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

10

I have very high confidence that I am entirely undecided on the costs and benefits of professional accreditation for economists. Economics in the workplace is a methodological toolbox rather than a job description. For policy and problem-solving purposes, it is often more powerful when combined with insights borrowed from other disciplines. Outside of academia and a handful of public sector agencies, there are many jobs that use elements of economics, but there are relatively few 'pure economist' jobs (i.e. jobs that require economics training only and entirely). Some of the best 'economics' organisations and teams are multi-disciplinary. And some of the best developments in economics do not come from narrowly trained economists (e.g. behavioural economics). As an aside, I rather like some of the alternative titles and descriptions that pop up online and at conferences. e.g futurist, thought leader, dream weaver, trend spotter, megatrend analyst, macro wonk, policy sherpa.


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 - Agree

2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

1 - Credit costs and availability are already changing due to global credit market machinations and rising US Fed rates etc. Changes to bank policies and practices in Australia as a result of the royal commission will affect credit costs and/or availability, in addition and concurrent to these background trends. In practice, it is likely to be difficult to untangle exactly why any individual credit arrangement changes, unless the bank in question explicitly says that it is in response to the royal commission.

2 - I am very confident that I don't agree or disagree on this one! Availability, conditions and cost of credit change frequently, in response to many variables (e.g. perceived risk, cost of capital, asset price trends, bankers' bonus arrangements, regulatory requirements). Reduced availability of credit is not necessarily always a negative influence on economic performance. The effect on households and businesses depends on when/why/how credit tightening is happening. And whether or not the availability of credit is a constraint on investment or output.


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 - Strongly agree

10

Public policy and workplace practices affect our experiences of parenthood in a myriad of ways including: childcare provision, school systems, welfare entitlements, employment laws, cultural norms and more. Too many of the relevant areas of policy, practice and attitude are still very strongly gendered.

Part 2 - Strongly agree

10


Waste Policy - August 2018

Poll 32

"There are clear net benefits for Australians from (further) increasing the diversion of waste from Australian landfills."

 

Strongly agree

10

Increasing our genuine recycling rate is a no-brainer. It will increase the utility we gain from our resources, increase our national productivity and decrease the negative externalities of landfill. Maximum benefit requires maximum efficiency and efficacy in the recycling process. We also need to reduce the volume of waste created in the first place.


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."

 

Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

8

This is yet another example of old taxes and charges that are no longer fit for purpose and no longer meet good policy objectives. Ideally, a radical overhaul would be better than more tinkering. e.g. replace all of these vehicle & fuel taxes/charges with usage, congestion or emissions taxes/charges that directly target the various negative externalities associated with powered vehicles of all types. This would effectively 'price' vehicles differently, but it would be based on their actual externalities, not the fuel or tech used.


Will building more homes make housing cheaper? - May 2018

Poll 29

"A sustained increase in the number of new homes constructed each year, all else equal, will make housing cheaper than otherwise."

 

Agree

8

'All else equal' is the key. If housing supply rises, and there is no increase in demand at all, for any reason whatsoever, then prices should, theoretically, fall. In practice, there are far too many distortions in the housing market on both the supply and demand sides, so it is not easy to tease out the effects of any single factor.


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 - Agree

2 - Disagree

1 - Achieving an operating surplus so as to reduce Government debt is a long-term objective. It is not a first-order priority that must be pursued over and above all other Government priorities and objectives. Government debt is not as pressing a problem when the cost of capital is low (such as now).

2 - This dichotomy is not a reasonable policy choice. Both are necessary Budget objectives. Australia sorely needs tax reform that is long-term, evidence-based, holistic and bi-partisan. The Henry tax review, the OECD, the WEF and pretty much everyone else agrees that Australia's tax mix is too heavily reliant on income/production taxes instead of consumption taxes. And it is unnecessarily complex. Tax reform is urgently needed.


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."

 

Disagree

8

Changes to US corporate taxation arrangements are intended to encourage US multinationals to repatriate profits earned overseas back to the US and to pay tax on those profits in the US instead of elsewhere. US companies will also be strongly encouraged to increase their investments inside the US, instead of investing in Australia or elsewhere. The aggregate impact on US investment into Australia is likely to be small (relative to total Australian investment and/or total US international investment) but it will not be zero.


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

8

New technologies change the nature of work, workplaces and societies in a myriad of ways. Individuals and society as a whole generally benefit from new technologies, from resulting productivity improvements and from new/improved/cheaper goods and services. The transition from one technology to another can be disruptive (and even redistributional) however, as demand for some skills and resources falls but demand for others rises. This is the dynamic process of 'creative destruction' at work. The technologies themselves are neutral. It is up to each community to adopt, adapt and regulate technological and human activity in order to maximise the benefits of change and to minimise any transitional or unintended costs.


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)

1 - Information deficits and/or assymetry are well-recognised sources of market failure. Affects economy, society, politics etc. Open-access public information from government, media and other sources helps to address these gaps.

2 - Public-funded broadcasting is highly valued by many (most?) people in Australia but appropriate funding levels are open to debate. There are many other ways government can support and promote public information (e.g. legal protections and regulations).


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."

 

Strongly agree

10

Equality? YES! Benefits? YES! Cherelle Murphy at ANZ estimates the direct economic benefit of this single decision to be at least $650mn.


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

To paraphrase a paraphrase*, change is the only constant. Every new technology fosters creative destruction to a greater or lesser degree (or in modern business-babble, disruptive innovation). Smashing the Spinning Jenny (or the smart-phone/smart-car/smart-telly) can only delay its adoption, not avert it entirely. It is up to all of us how we manage these transitions, and for whom. (* apologies to every famous economist who has ever commented on the aggregate benefits of tech change, which is probably all of them)


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"

 

Agree

9

Government borrowing for infrastructure projects is not the same as borrowing to meet deficits in the operating budget. It does not have the same (mostly negative) implications for Government finances and credit ratings. This is sometimes over-simplified into 'good debt' vs 'bad debt' but it is nevertheless a reasonable rule of thumb to follow. Infrastructure can of course be funded in a variety of ways. Direct government funding is just one of several options. All infrastructure projects, regardless of their method of funding, must pass full and independent governance and planning criteria (e.g. assessed and recommended by Infrastructure Australia or a State Gov equivalent) in order to avoid pork-barreling. Wrong infrastructure is a waste of everyone's time and money, regardless of how it is funded.


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

8

The Finkel Review is to be highly commended and strongly supported. It made strong recommendations in the face of a difficult political environment. Finkel's recommendation of a technology-neutral 'clean energy target' is a pragmatic and openly 'second-best' policy response. It was necessary because the 'first-best' policies (an emissions tax or emissions trading system) are not possible in the current political environment. Finkel's recommendation is preferable to doing nothing but it is not preferable to an emissions tax or emissions trading system.


Does privatisation of human services hurt outcomes? - July 2017

Poll 20

"For-profit provision of human services like health and education leads to poor client outcomes and high costs to government."

 

Strongly disagree

9

Australia has a long history of health, welfare and education services being provided by non-government entities, including for-profit businesses and non-profit organisations (e.g. religious groups). Australia generally scores very well in international comparisons of health, welfare and education outcomes (e.g. OECD ranking tables). I am not convinced that for-profit service providers would/should/could perform any worse than non-profit providers or direct government providers of these services, particularly in light of the many serious revelations and allegations arising from various royal commissions and inquiries into these services. The design, delivery and oversight of service delivery arrangements are more important than the identity of the provider.


Gender diversity in the workplace - role of government? - June 2017

Poll 19

"The recent Parliamentary Inquiry into "Gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women's economic equality" was asked to examine measures to encourage women?s participation in male-dominated occupations and industries. Although there is growing awareness of the productivity gains of gender diversity, the private market alone is unlikely to steer the Australian labour market toward gender equality in male-dominated industries. Breaking down gender segregation in the labour market can only be achieved with some degree of government intervention."

 

Strongly agree

10

Gender segregation starts in our schools and social networks (particularly in well-established single-sex 'old school tie' and private club networks), extends into our universities and spreads into our workplaces. Equal access is vital for all students. Our teaching of STEM must improve for all students. Government education policy should actively encourage males into 'female' study areas and occupations (especially nursing and education), not just encourage females into 'male' study areas and occupations (e.g. building engineering banking). The last vestiges of IR law that contribute to gender segregation must be removed (e.g. industry awards that preclude part-time work hours).


Australian Federal Budget 2017 - Outsourcing Economic Forecasting - May 2017

Poll 18

"Given the Commonwealth Treasury?s ongoing difficulty in making accurate forecasts of some of the key economic variables underpinning the Budget ? in particular nominal GDP growth ? the Government should ?outsource? the economic forecasts used in framing the Budget to an independent agency (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office), as now happens in the United Kingdom."

 

Strongly disagree

9

There are several reasons why one might wish to 'outsource' macroeconomic parameter forecasting for Fed Budget purposes. e.g. :1. quality of the forecasts. No forecasts are ever perfect. Treasury is not worse than other Australian public or private sector forecasters. Treasury's own analysis of its previous forecasts has found no evidence systemic or quality-related bias. There is a very limited pool of people in Australia with the right skills & experience for this type of work, so the proposition that it could be done better elsewhere is questionable. Outsourcing is unlikely to improve the quality or accuracy.2. independence of the forecasts. If the political independence of Treasury's macroeconomic forecasting is genuinely of concern, then this problem should be identified and rectified within Treasury, not through a 'second-best' outsourcing arrangement.3. cost of providing forecasts. staff costs for an appropriate level of skill & experience are unlikely to be lower outside Treasury than inside it, given the tiny pool of people available in Australia who can do this type of work at the level required.