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Rudd continues to struggle with economics

By Mikayla Novak - posted Thursday, 13 October 2011

Recent musings by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd provide a timely reminder that economic policy remains his Achilles heel.

Speaking in New York last month Rudd depicted the global economy as a 'wild beast,' and that the task of policymakers is to 'tame the beast to the greatest extent we can.'

What Rudd was alluding to is the recent recurrence of downward volatility in share markets around the advanced economies, which in fact has represented a general pattern for equities so far in 2011.


The United States S&P 500 share index closed at about 1,272 points on the first day of trading for this year. At the time of writing it has trended down to close at 1,195 points.

It is notable that the index plunged 20 per cent between 22 July, when it closed at about 1,345 points, and 5 August at about 1,119 points. During that period, of course, the US debt ceiling crisis unfolded and Standard and Poor's downgraded the credit ratings for US government bonds.

The value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average has also fallen, albeit slightly, over the course of the year so far.

The equity value of companies on the famed index couldn't escape the wrath of adverse financial market sentiment against the US debt ceiling deal, as the overall index fell by ten per cent between late July and early August.

Across the Atlantic similarly bearish sentiments have taken hold of European share markets.

The British FTSE 100 index, another important barometer of global financial market sentiment, has fallen from about 6014 points on the first day of trading for 2011 to 5399 points at the time of writing.


This represents a decline in average share value on this market to the tune of ten per cent, with traders also reacting negatively to the US debt issue and the rolling European debt crisis.

Similar trends can be readily seen with regard to the DAX share market of Germany, the effective bankroller of Greece and other heavily indebted countries on the European Union periphery.

It shouldn't take aggrieved Mum and Dad investors and holders of superannuation accounts tied up in shares to know that Australian share markets have followed the global downward trend, with the S&P/ASX 200 index falling by 11 per cent over the year to date.

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About the Author

Mikayla Novak is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs. She has previously worked for Commonwealth and State public sector agencies, including the Commonwealth Treasury and Productivity Commission. Mikayla was also previously advisor to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Her opinion pieces have been published in The Australian, Australian Financial Review, The Age, and The Courier-Mail, on issues ranging from state public finances to social services reform.

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