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Author's Name: Richard Holden
Date: Wed 06 May 2020

Richard Holden

Professor Richard Holden

Richard Holden is professor of economics at UNSW Business School. Professor Holden received a PhD from Harvard University and was a faculty member at MIT and the University of Chicago before returning to Australia.

He has published in the leading economics journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review and Review of Economic Studies. His popular writings have appeared in outlets such as the New York Times, New Republic, American Affairs, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Conversation.

He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, and of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.

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Responses (7)

Top economists want JobSeeker boosted by $100+ per week and tied to wages

Poll 44

"Ahead of a decision about any permanent increase expected early next year, The Conversation and the Economic Society of Australia asked 45 of Australia’s leading economists where they thought JobSeeker should settle."

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


Remain indexed in line with the CPI

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 



The budget largely failed to address the economic issues we had before COVID-19. The tax measures were half-hearted, there was no childcare plan, and even infrastructure spending was more-or-less "business as usual".

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, Wage subsidies or hiring bonuses (beyond JobKeeper), More funding for education and training

We need to be working on both the demand side and supply side as the virus comes under control. It would be a mistake to underspend on fiscal measures, but also a mistake not to use this moment to make our tax rates more competitive.

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 deferred


An increase in the superannuation guarantee trades current consumption (wages) for future consumption (retirement savings). Now is a very bad time to do more of that. In addition, the current system is extremely costly in terms of tax concessions but still results in around 70% of Australians retiring on the aged pension. As the Grattan Institute and others have pointed out, the "bang for the buck" of the current system is completely unclear. I favor reforming the system through having low-cost index funds (rather than high cost stock pickers) and taxing on the way out (at the marginal rate including capital gains discounts) not the way in. But absent that we should not be increasing mandatory contributions.

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 


Strongly agree


The carrying cost of long-term debt is less than 1% pa and net debt/GDP is around 20%.

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


In current economic conditions the employment-destroying effects of a higher minimum wage outweigh the benefits to minimum wage workers have slightly more spending power.

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


If R>1 then the virus grows exponentially, eventually killing tens to hundreds of thousands of Australians.