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Global Economic Weekly - June 27, 2016

Well, I was wrong. (I was going to add ‘so, sue me’ – but then I thought maybe someone might…) But so were the bookies, the opinion pollsters and even the early exit polls. We all got it wrong – and for much the same reasons. In particular, we underestimated just how much the over-50s and the economically marginalised “wanted their country back” – and blamed globalisation (which they conflated with the European Project) for the hollowing out of British industry and for the transformation of the UK economy from a bastion of manufacturing to a financial casino run by spivs and foreigners…

Yes, that is a gross exaggeration. But there is enough truth in people’s hopes and fears that they were prepared to blow one enormous raspberry at the metropolitan elites. Clearly, Cameron made some egregious mistakes. Most importantly, he felt confident enough of the outcome not to use the Scottish referendum as a precedent to give 16 year-olds the vote. And (for reasons I don’t understand) he didn’t give Brits living abroad (particularly in the EU) a vote on their own future either. If he had done either, the result would have been very different. I have argued consistently that “the young” are not more internationalist than their elders. They are in many ways more insular (in that most couldn’t find India or Australia on a map), but, for them, Continental Europe is their back yard – and the prospect (however remote) of being cut off is almost unthinkable. The conventional wisdom seems to be that ‘Project Fear’ – by projecting an unrelentingly negative picture of a vote to Leave – overegged the pudding and caused a backlash. Personally, I don’t agree; indeed, by the end of the campaign, even I had shifted my focus from the sunny uplands of a global future to the grim business of coping with the details of an inevitably acrimonious divorce.

And, inevitably, it will be acrimonious.

Read more here.

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Global Economic Weekly - June 6, 2016

As I noted last week, the G7 Summit in Japan achieved little or nothing beyond introducing cute little Justin Trudeau to some new chums (and giving David Cameron the chance to get a few more autographs in his anti-‘Brexit’ book). However, it did focus attention on concerns that the global economy is slowing down. This was also the message from the OECD’s latest (semi-annual) Economic Outlook. For most of the major economies, short-term growth prospects are now around three percentage points lower than they were six months ago though, oddly, the projection for GDP growth in the eurozone this year is actually higher than the 1.3% that the OECD predicted as recently as February:

US Eurozone


Germany UK


2.1% (China

-3.9% (World

________ * actual

OECD: Global GDP forecasts

2015* 2016 2017
2.4% 1.8% 2.2%
1.6% 1.6% 1.7%
1.2% 1.4% 1.5%
1.4% 1.6% 1.7%
2.3% 1.7% 2.0%
0.6% 0.7% 2.1% OECD

1.8% 2.1% 6.9% 6.5% -4.3% -1.7%) 3.0% 3.0%

6.2%) (Brazil 3.3%)

The biggest downward adjustment from the last full forecast in November is, I regret
growth this year was previously expected to be 2.4%. Opponents of ‘Brexit’ have seized on this, though the link is tenuous in the extreme. Whatever, the OECD’s chief economist, Catherine Mann, who is an American academic, used the launch of the report to urge a greater focus on competition, lower corporate taxes more public infrastructure investment and cuts in government subsidies. All good stuff, and (when it comes to public sector spending) indicative of a trend.

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Global Economic Weekly - June 13, 2016

It is hard not to start with a comment on the Florida shootings which are the biggest of their kind in the US. (And the US has had more than its share of mass shootings.) Maybe it is a coincidence that they took place during Ramadan, and maybe the shooter was ‘disturbed’. But the fact is that this will impact on the Presidential (and Congressional) elections, and probably plays into the hands of the ‘nativist’ element that combines two incompatible elements isolationism (a la Pat Buchanan) and a strong desire to whack America’s enemies wherever they are (the neo-con message). Either way, not good.

In the meantime, the self-important and (allegedly) secret Bilderberg group set up in 1954 to promote US-European cooperation met in Dresden over the weekend, to discuss the key problems of the global economy, described as “mega trends”. In reality, this is just another schmoozefest fore the global elite, with much the same cast of characters as Davos Lagarde, Kissinger, Schäuble, the Economist’s Zanny Minton-Beddoes, the FT’s Martin Wolf and 140 “business leaders”. (It is sponsored primarily by Airbus and Axa, which is a sort of giveaway.) But the topics the group has identified as priorities are interesting China, migration, the Middle East, Russia, the US political situation, cyber threats, the “precariat” and technology. (They missed random Islamic terrorism, but maybe it got discussed in the margins.) Henri de Castries (Axa’s chairman), who seems to be the dominant player this year, insisted that “Brexit” would also be on the agenda indicative of just how scared Europe’s political class is that Britain might vote to leave the EU. (Germany’s Foreign Minister, Franz-Walter Steinmeier gave a speech on Friday in which he warned that the rest of the EU would be in “deep crisis” if the UK left; it would not be business as usual. Schäuble made the same point over the weekend.)

It is not just Bilderberg that admits to being worried about the world. The equally self-important speculator/philanthropist (a sort of one-man Davos), George Soros, is also said to have “gone bearish” on the global economy. In his case, that means buying gold (and gold miners). 

Read more here.

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Global Economic Weekly - June 20, 2016


Considering that Britain is only a medium-sized economy (albeit the fifth or sixth largest, depending on the source), and that Europe is a declining force within the global economy, it is astonishing how international markets and central bankers have been held hostage by the threat that we might vote to leave the EU in the referendum that will be held on Thursday.

Even though, at the beginning of last week, most of the polls gave the “Leave” side a narrow lead over “Remain”, I have always found it very hard to see any outcome other than a 55/45 decision to stay in the EU. There are several reasons for that (beyond the economic arguments for and against, which are in fact finely balanced). Most important, the campaign which the government, all the major political parties, Big Business and pretty much every international organisation and think-tank from the IMF to the IFS have waged – known, with some justification, as ‘Project Fear’ – must have convinced many hitherto undecided voters that the world will come to an end if they vote for “Brexit”. The fact that this is nonsense (not least because the assumptions that are built into the LSE/Treasury ‘gravity’ model of the UK economy that everyone is using are such that the EU is assumed a priori to be the key source of growth for the UK economy) is irrelevant. Plus, the government itself relaxed the rules on voter registration to give younger voters (who are overwhelmingly pro-EU) more time to sign up and the result was 900,000 new voters. Assuming (as most people now do) that we will have an unusually high turn-out of around 70% that will probably be enough to carry the day. Plus, there is (almost) always a last minute shift towards the status quo in any referendum. And Thursday’s killing of Jo Cox, a young pro-Europe Labour MP which appears to have been related to her support for Syrian refugees may well deter some of those who are most strongly against immigration from voting. (Cynical traders immediately pushed up sterling, as soon as her death was announced, in the belief that it would reinforce the vote to Remain; they are probably right.) 

Read more here.


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Charlton groups’ Peter Charlton and group CEO Rebecca Davies, hosted a lunch in honour of Trade envoy Andrew Robb, for his outstanding work for Australia as TradeMinister, at QT hotel.

Present at the lunch included Former NSW premier Nick Greiner, John B  Fairfax of Marinya, AdBris’ Les Hosking, and Ashley Services Stewart Cummins.






Contact : Rebecca Davies


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Government Australia Advisory Board

Simon Crean MP

John Brumby 

Kristina Keneally

Mark Vaile

Nick Greiner

Alexander Downer

Peter Charlton

Trevor Rowe

Warwick Smith


Bob Carr