Plain English Blog

The 8 rules of plain English

  “Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straightforwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are.” So said Henry Alford English churchman, theologian, textual critic, scholar, poet, and writer about 150 years ago. The same rings true today and it’s called plain English…. Continue reading →

Federal budget jargon buster part 1

It’s budget night. You’re nestled into the couch armed with a coldy, a crisp chardonnay or something stronger depending on your passion for the political. Smokin’ Joe steps up to the dispatch box and unleashes an avalanche of lingo that leaves you scratching your noggin’. My advice? Blast that budget blathering with this plain English, budget jargon buster! First, here’s an apolitical explanation outlining the backdrop to this year’s budget…. Continue reading →

No change is the only constant

There was little surprise in the latest missive from the RBA, which saw the cash rate remain on hold at 2.5 per cent. As RBA ‘Guvna’ Glenn Stevens said, “on present indications, the most prudent course is likely to be a period of stability in interest rates”. In other words, we’re pretty happy with things as they are, and will probably sit back for a bit and see how the… Continue reading →

Part 1: What is a free trade agreement (FTA)?

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about free trade agreements (FTAs). The PM recently returned from a whirlwind Asian tour, the aim of which was to set up FTAs with South Korea, Japan and China. Team Australia, consisting of around 600 of our business best and brightest, bowed, did the sake, smiled though the spicy kimchi and told the Chinese how much we really like them…. Continue reading →

Part 2: The nuts-and-bolts of our FTAs with South Korea and Japan

Last week we looked at the definition of a free trade agreement (FTA), and the PM’s recent FTA negotiations with South Korea, Japan and China. Currently, the FTA deals have been sealed with South Korea and Japan, and China is pretty close. These three economies together represent over 50 per cent of our exports so access to them through FTAs will be crucial for us if we plan on being… Continue reading →

Change is the essence of capitalism

Back in 1942, Joseph Schumpeter popularised the idea that creative destruction of economies, and/or sectors of economies, was critical to prosperity and growth. He posited that progress in a capitalist system relied on the destruction of an existing economic order to make room for the next. Capitalism was, essentially, an evolutionary process of continuous innovation. Agents of this creative destruction range from the opening up of new markets to revolutionary… Continue reading →

A mining boom has three stages

Each with different economic benefits and payoffs. Design stage This kicks it all off after miners first detect a surge in demand and scramble to plan new project. It continues until they decide exactly what to build and where. It’s usually accompanied by rising commodity prices and rising terms of trade. Importantly it doesn’t bring much to the economy aside from a few jobs in engineering and geology. Australia entered… Continue reading →

House hold savings….and the new normal

From the 1960s to the late ’80s Aussie families saved around 15% of what they earned. It seems the proverbial ‘rainy day’ had a little more brevity then. But with the sharp rise in house prices, as well as available credit and relaxed lending standards, household debt began to grow. From the early-to-mid-1990s, as people began to consume with unparalleled vigour, household saving rates (the difference between a household’s income… Continue reading →

Inflation basics: What, why, where, how, etc.

Inflation is the increase in the general price of goods and services. As it rises, every dollar in your wallet/purse/man bag/imagination buys you less. For example, if the annual rate of inflation is 2%, then in a year’s time a $1 widget will cost $1.02, on average. Australia’s inflation is measured by the quarterly Consumer Price Index, often just referred to as the CPI. To get this data, the Australian… Continue reading →

Could Europe’s history of bloody conflict be what saves it?

Violence in the streets, hostility in parliaments, grim demands of austerity. Hmm … another day, another euro. But hold the baguette! I reckon the union and the euro will survive this annus horribilis. We’ll probably see a few defaults as sovereign debt – what each country owes its creditors – is written down or off. (My money’s on Greece, Portugal and Spain, in that order. If Italy goes, all bets… Continue reading →