Tough economy? Not to worry. We have a secret weapon
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There’s no point denying it – the news is a grim business sometimes.
The Age will continue to bring you positive stories about Melbourne’s successes (remember this?). We are determined to be constructive in our discussion of the big ideas (see our Second CBD series on the future of Melbourne here and my personal take on it here). We also want to bring you stories that are shamelessly joyful, awesome or just plain interesting (see anything by our smile-generator extraordinaire, Carolyn Webb, here).
The construction industry is on the precipice of a downturn that could have implications for the broader economy.Credit: Eamon Gallagher
But none of this absolves us of our responsibility to tell you what’s going on in the world around you, warts and all, with the context you need to properly understand it. And sometimes, what’s going on around you is troubling.
I’m talking about crime, war, atrocities, injustices, disasters and corruption.
Then, there’s the economy. Sometimes esoteric, usually important and, at the moment at least, mostly grim reading.
A couple of weeks ago we had the collapse of two construction companies. At about the same time, the Victorian government signalled cuts of up to 10 per cent across the public service in response to lower-than-expected revenue and ballooning debt. That, most probably, means job cuts. Quite a few of them. Late last month, the Reserve Bank had bad news for renters.
This week, the chief economist of Australia’s biggest bank predicted a decline in real household incomes later this year. Globally, the International Monetary Fund has forecast “feeble and uneven” economic growth for the remainder of the decade.
In the case of the Porter Davis home builder collapse and broader construction industry upheaval, which we have covered extensively, homebuyers were left with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on incomplete homes and little clarity on when – or if – anyone will come to the rescue. The industry is on the precipice of a downturn that could have implications for the broader economy unless policymakers and companies can find a way to relieve the pressure created by rapid inflation on the cost of building materials. If you read only one article that explains the pressures on that industry – and what that means for those who make their living from the construction industry, consumers and the broader economy – I recommend this excellent piece from Jewel Topsfield and Josh Gordon.
Rising interest rates, job cuts and rental crises don’t make for easy reading, but it is undeniably important that we understand what is happening and why it’s occurring so we can fix it or steel ourselves for it. Our economics correspondent Rachel Clun has done some important work in recent weeks, keeping readers informed of these issues and related policy changes from the federal government. In challenging times, reporters like Rachel keep us armed with quality information we need to make good decisions.
Understanding the factors that influence economic conditions requires a level of expertise not all of us possess. Interpreting that information for lay people requires another skill set. Fewer still can also navigate federal politics. Almost no one can do all three of those things while maintaining good humour and creativity in a deadline-driven newsroom environment. And nobody can do all of that while keeping an encyclopaedic knowledge of 1980s and ’90s pop culture and an ability to recall any Kate Bush song lyric.
Except one person: Shane Wright. Our secret weapon on all things economics.
Shane Wright is our secret weapon when it comes to making sense of the economy.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
To you, our subscribers, Shane needs no introduction. The prolific news breaking ability and insightful analysis of our senior economics correspondent has consistently occupied the top of our homepages and the front of our newspapers since 2018. He is without peer in his ability to dismantle the complexities of economics and explain what it means for the way we live. I know many of our readers are as grateful for his possession of these superpowers as I am.
Though I have not witnessed it first hand, I am also told Shane is a prolific runner who has conquered numerous marathons. He just keeps on running up that hill (sorry).
A Melbourne boy, Shane also understands The Age’s readers and Victoria’s unique circumstances. In fact his experience across the country – east and west, regional and metro – is probably one of the things that makes him an excellent economics correspondent. He understands how people live, work and behave differently in different towns and states.
We are extremely lucky to have someone of Shane’s calibre in our Canberra bureau. In a time of economic upheaval, I could not think of a better investment of your subscription than in his valuable work.
He’s not just our secret weapon – he’s yours.
Patrick Elligett sends an exclusive newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to receive his Note from the Editor.
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