Wednesday, October 15

Taking a positive view: Let's hope The Australian has it right

Perhaps many readers didn't notice, but today's Australian newspaper gave a significant endorsement to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's emergency economic measures in particular and those of the world's governments in general.

Over the pages it devoted to the global credit crisis and sharemarket meltdown, it had been running a strap, THE LONG SLOW CRASH OF '08. It was still using it yesterday, as the clipping above shows. But this morning the Oz had changed the strap to ROAD TO RECOVERY.

Let's hope our national newspaper has it right -- that we really have turned on to the road to recovery. The alternative is too grim, because I believe we were headed for a worldwide depression to rival the 1930s.

For most of my working life, I covered financial and business news -- going right back to the nickel boom of the late 1960s. The collapse of the "entrepreneurs" in the eighties, Paul Keating's "recession we had to have," the excesses of the dot-com boom . . . you name it.

But since World War II, the world economy has never faced a threat of collapse as great as the current crisis, such a locking up of the flows of credit vital to economic activity.

And if, as seems likely, Australia really is showing the way forward, there'll be another benefit. We won't have to put up with the Poms sending out another Sir Otto Niemeyer to tell us it's far more important to pay the English bondholders than worry about the unemployed at home.

The Australian published good news roundups, probably the best of all our newspapers Down Under, and a good range of opinions.

But one could not avoid noting that all the conservative commentariat was singing from the same songbook, downloaded from the same old right-wing websites. It was all the Democrats' fault, and Bill Clinton's in particular, for forcing America's otherwise prudent banks to make all those sub-prime loans to people who couldn't repay them.

Initially, Janet Albrechtsen went right over the top. She became particularly enraged at Kevin Rudd's criticism of greedy bankers, even suggesting it was the distressed borrowers who were greedy. One wonders why she was so upset. Is there something she wasn't telling us?

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