MB Radio: The Trump revolution Downunder

With the Brexit vote in June and the Donald Trump win in the U.S. Presidential election in November 2016 delivering an electoral riposte to a generation of increasing globalisation, Gunnamatta spoke with David Llewellyn- Smith and Leith Van Onselen about how the Australian economy is currently positioned, and of the implications for Australian economic policy and politics of any potential de-globalisation sentiment.

Over more than an hour the 3 Part discussion covers how Australia’s economic policy framework is likely to be pressured as Mining Capex continues to decline and with the prospect of housing construction likely to peak and then subside within the medium term future, and the implication of this for wages growth and the federal budget, as well as the policy choices confronting the government in responding.  From there the role of immigration in sustaining demand is looked at, along with the socio economic impulse leading to a curtailment of immigration and the growing questions about the free trade agenda pursued by Australian governments for a generation, along with the grip of the FIRE sector over Australia’s media discourse and the policy debacles which have marked Australian economic policymaking, most notably in managing Australia’s gas industry.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Latest posts by Gunnamatta (see all)


    • Under Turnbull, there are agile and innovative ways of bullshitting the majority of the Australian public.

    • The lefties in USA turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, the Tories in AUS turn a blind eye to illegal purchase of Aussie real estate.

      Also, Obama and Gillard printed H1B visas and 457 visas like crazy.

      What an miserable time to be a Briton/American/Aussie/Kiwi.

  1. “exchange their football cards” excellent why to describe shrinkflation. lol
    If we don’t get lucky with another resource boom we entered the slowdown already as limited players only play in limited areas. If resources don’t have a revival, China will find a way to stop outflow and that is the end.
    Another scenario is we will overbuild and that will crush the market as falling rents and resell prices will do the job. We can’t slow down with the building volumes as that will trigger unemployment in Syd and Mel and that will spell trouble too. So we must keep building in order to keep people in the jobs until something else comes around (another resource boom) and if that does not come then we are screwed – either oversupply or unemployment (if developers don’t go ahead with new builds in order to restrict supply) will pop the bubble.

    • The only way to keep the building boom going is to maintain our increase immigration levels. It’s a massive standard of living trap that Australia is in. Massive drop in living standards coming as the infrastructure costs outweighs the benefit of short term construction jobs

  2. Thanks. Really good. The gas story is one that should cause more public debate. As lived experience goes it is symptomatic of Australia’s malaise.

  3. It was recorded using a Logitech monitor camera microphone, using MP3 Skype Recorder saved to a desktop over TPG ADSL2, in a home office fairly devoid of wall furnishings (providing some excellent echo) alongside a window with a large water tank outside and some neighbors with a kid just over the side fence, and edited using Wavepad sound editor. Special additional sound effects, including high pitch squeals, were provided by various members of the Llewellyn-Smith household, with a fruit bat chipping in while scoffing down half ripe nectarines at my place (while editing late at night) and a mystery popping noise contributed from the Van Onselen household.

    We have gone (from the get go) for substance over style, mainly because every last outlet in the mainstream media will give you better style, but wouldnt hesitate to serve you a turd if they thought there was money in it for them.

    • Hope I didn’t prompt that Gunna. I was riffing on the non-msm equalling Russian propaganda meme from the Washington Post. Cold war LeCarre. Sorry if it sounded like a complaint!

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        all good mate. I havent had enough sleep this week, and have my Saturday run kids around session (which today nearly saw some biffo over another parents parking style at a collection point). Maybe I was just cranky this morning. Nothing some alcohol on a saturday eve wont fix.

    • ‘…sound effects, including high pitch squeals, were provided by….’ So the weren’t an ingenious copyright watermark to protect the IP of MB.

  4. Thanks guys. If nothing else that was a refreshing perspective compared with the one-eyed partisan crap I read just about everywhere else.

  5. Very good. Different medium gives enhanced perspective and nuance to the written word. It would be great if this recorded segment continues periodically.
    On entertainment, how can you match the colour and movement of Hanson, Roberts and Culleton. What a circus! Queensland and WA’s up yours to the rest of Australia.

  6. All I could think was “I wonder what would be different if our election was mid next year instead of this year”

  7. Entertaining banter dudes. Well done.

    I’m still on the fence as to whether the zeitgeist is anti-globalisation or anti-immigration, the key driver. I lean toward the latter. South Park is never wrong 😉

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      Entertaining banter dudes. Well done.
      I’m still on the fence as to whether the zeitgeist is anti-globalisation or anti-immigration, the key driver. I lean toward the latter. South Park is never wrong

      I actually think the Zeitgeist at its core has almost nothing to do with either anti-globalisation or anti-immigration in the first instance, though I am quite sure the mainstream body politic, and the corporate and 1% elites, as well as their class of sociopathic managercrats, wants us to think it is. At its core the issues are those which are easily portrayed to us through the narrative of immigration and globalisation and keeping the focus on the interplay between those issues serves the interests of the 1%ers. I am also quite sure they would like us to think there is something of a binary choice between immigration or globalisation. Because at the end of the day I don’t think the developed world will actually be able to do much about immigration or about globalisation, and the one percenters actually get that.

      They know that if they can craft a narrative of a binary choice, and have the commentariat (and public) buy the idea that the core issue is between immigration and globalisation, then in the long run they will have as much immigration as they like, and the world will be an ever globalised place regardless, where the publics who currently rail against immigration and globalisation will ultimately give up in the face of the sheer enormity of it. The 1%ers and their, and their elite servants will also know they will be easily able to play a medium term game of supporting globalisation and immigration where there is a ready and popular case for them, and that in many cases the world has developed a taste for globalisation and immigration, which have brought many good things to the developed world, and that the odds would be in their favour to get another chance to drive the pro globalisation and immigration impulse. Sort of like a trader playing a pullback and taking cash before going long again.

      I think at its core the impulse which has carried Brexit and which Trump has (in part) harnessed en route to the White House revolves around two sides of the one issue, which the 1%ers certainly don’t want the commentariat and public thinking about because they think they will need to pay for it. One of these is fairly obvious and does get some discussion, though without its implications being thought through. The other gets an airing every now and then but is generally smoothed over without too much attention, or smothered in dollops of bullshit in order to deflect.

      The first aspect of the issue at the core (IMO) of what has carried Brexit and Trump is the status and remuneration of jobs for those members of the developed world who have been cultivated to believe that the success or failure of their families – and of the opportunities and aspirations of their children – depends on their ability to bring home a solid enough pay packet to support the access to the material goods and services to help their families access those aspirations .

      The second aspect of the issue at the core (IMO) of what has carried Brexit and Trump is the ability of the elites to avoid taxation, and their ability to take an ever increasing (over the last generation) and historically high share of the economic pie .

      I see the two as essentially facets of the one overarching issue of economic policy and the economic model , and it is obvious that immigration and globalisation issues also feed into economic policy and the economic model . I would however posit that the distribution characteristics of the economic policy and the economic model (with the take of the 1%ers and the ability of those part of the model essentially being ‘distribution characteristics’) are more core to discussion of it than ‘volumes processed’ by the economic policy and the economic model . I would also note that the the ‘real’ core issue which the 1%ers really don’t want remotely looked at is the ability of the elites and 1%ers, and their sociopath corporate bureaucrats to determine economic policy and the economic model to suit themselves first and foremost, and everyone else second, which in the circumstances applicable to the working and middle classes of the developed world has essentially meant a deterioration of quality of life – usually masked by debt – for a generation, while observing a far greater take by the elites – who have used the tools of ‘globalisation’ and ‘immigration’ against a backdrop of their increased ability to determine and impose economic policy and economic model coupled with their ability to obfuscate discussion of economic policy and control information about economic performance . It is the latter which is at the core of the disgruntlement leading to a rejection of immigration and globalisation. In short, they feel they have been bullshitted by the elites for a very long time, and although they may be only generally aware of how they have been bullshitted, that they have been bullshitted is, to them, perfectly obvious.

      The 1%ers and elites and their sociopath corporate bureaucrats are keen to ensure that there is as little discussion of the overall economic policy and economic model as possible, and preferably no discussion at all of the distribution characteristics of that model (the take going to working and middle classes, or the take being taken by the elites and 1%ers and their sociopathic corporate bureaucrats – and most certainly no discussion of the ability of the elites to shape economic policy to suit themselves) – and if the price for that is a debate on immigration and globalisation then they will accept that. The debate needs to go to the core.

      The zeitgeist is the role of the 1%. Anything less is just talking about the tools they use to get their way

      • Hey @Gunnamatta

        I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but the class war you seem keen to stoke up came to an end about 25 years ago when Gorbachev gave up on the CCCP. In case you were wondering, capitalism won. Ever since then those who make the running, take the risk,apply their intelligence and work to do so get the cake. Thats the way it should be. The real issue in this world is the number of people who think they are entitled to a handout, or are entitled to a house or are entitled to a certain style of living. They arent entitled to anything, they need to work for it.

        Your tin eared podcasts are not worth listening to for more than 5 minutes. Llewellyn-Smith and Van Onselen are at least cogent in the points they make, you just bullshit with cheap ideology and inane commentary.

      • Dear Gunnamatta,

        I hate to be the bearer of notable news, but the class war Merlington seems keen to stoke up came to an end about 8 years ago with the GFC. In case you were wondering, neoliberalism lost. Ever since then those who game the system, feed corruption, lobby & corrupt governments and apply their cunning, get the cake. That’s the way the whole edifice crumbles. The real issue in this world is the number of people who think they are entitled to a BAILOUT, or are entitled to a whore, or are entitled to a certain style of wanking. They arent entitled to anything.
        Merli’s posts are not worth reading to for more than 5 milliseconds. Merlington is the least persuasive in the points he makes, he just bullshits with cheap propaganda and worn-out bumf.


      • Gunnamatta, I think you nail it, and Merlington is clueless. You, like myself, have no allegiance at all for the kind of socialism that rightly went into the dustbin of history in the 1980’s.

        The political battle we are in now, is between rentier capitalism and the real thing, which needs to be kept honest by true market freedoms and appropriate government involvement. There are two types of people who misguidedly support the rentier, vampire-squid capitalism we are getting in place of the real thing. One are the economically illiterate lefties like Skippy, who do not see that a lot of the Statist meddling in the economy is useful idiocy playing into the hands of the zero point one percent (I understand from reading Piketty’s book, that the problem is far more the zero point one percent than it is the one percent). The other seems to be where Merlington is coming from – a blind supporter of anything that is “capitalist” instead of “socialist”. I used to be like this until I got the distinction between rentier capitalism, and free market capitalism whereby aggregate wealth is grown by producers in competition with each other, providing goods and services of true value (and embodying consumer surplus) and everybody benefits from the consumer surplus forever being added to more and more goods and services. Economic rent is the opposite of consumer surplus, and it is where almost all the problem is, in the inequitable outcomes to the “globalisation” experiment.

        A national economy that is lean and mean and has low local costs due to an absence of successful rent-seeking, will always manage to keep more of its populace happy with the outcomes of globalisation and even immigration. But a national economy riddled with triumphant rent-seeking, for example in urban land and the financing of it, will get the worst of all worlds. Lost industry, haves and have-nots, and a death-spiral of the real economy in which more and more have-nots are created; while meanwhile those who are on the gouge from economic rent get fatter and fatter without contributing a thing to the real economy.

        This perversion of capitalism risks an ignorant counter-revolution back to guaranteed-failure socialism. Lenin famously said “a capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him”; Ayn Rand’s comment on that was “crony capitalists should BE hung BEFORE they sell the rope to the communists”. I am not a Randist but I think that insight is helpful.

      • ‘The second aspect of the issue at the core…’ – you’ve got a goddamn gem of an idea here. please expand on it if you get the chance.

      • “mainstream body politic, and the corporate and 1% elites, as well as their class of sociopathic managercrats, wants us to think it is. At its core…” this is the problem with human resource types and their programmatic approach to the ills of life.
        Hows about you guys get someone you trust not to f$$k youse over to do this radio stuff, but that someone is not a true believer in your narrative.
        Get some balance.

  8. good to hear that the MB investment project continues to progress.

    Getting the nitty gritty of that gas story was worthwhile, the term fiasco seems fitting ! But what about accountability and the political fallout ….. were is that !

  9. There will always be a need for commodities… Cheap toys from China not so much…
    Australia has a bright future!

  10. Well Pa.

    Good luck with your obsessions as universal cost-effective health care and universal basic education sail out of sight while you obsess.

    With Betsy de Vos (DIL of Amway founder) and long term funder / promoter of charter schools which have not shown any consistent advantage over gov. schools as new Sec. of Education, what is there to worry about? 🙂

    Another high quality Alt RIght / Tea Party selection.

    • Actually the distortions in the USA created by education policy are far worse than anywhere else. Their schools are funded from local property taxes yet run from Washington. This leads to massive default “exclusionary” zoning mandates – I mean urban regulations, not school zoning per se. The intent is to try and keep suburbs tax-positive rather than tax-negative, by “pricing out” lower-income families with children. This is yet another effect besides the inflated house prices in the zones of good schools, which helps to increase inequality of education outcomes anyway. Glaeser discusses this in “Triumph of the City”. Many of the US’s locational inequality problems are grossly exacerbated by this particular distortion.

      Trump seems to me to genuinely care and want to do something about “failed neighbourhoods”, and predicts that he will clean up the minority-group vote next election. But the lefty establishment including the media, blocks their ears and keeps chanting “racist” – while their own preferred policies, decades mature now, have entrapped those minorities deeper in hopelessness. I say give Team Trump a chance.

  11. Phil. Can you advise how charter schools are going to fix “the school funding issues with the private sector getting into it (just like TAFE in Oz)?

    I suggest you move your family over there to join the working class whites and people of colour, particularly in the south, so you do not miss out on Trump’s ‘”improvements”. Enjoy!

    • My point was not about the narrow issue of “funding education”. It was that the distortions from the way US education policy is run, go far wider than that. Because they fund locally and administer from Washington, they have the worst of all worlds. Busted-arse neighbourhoods cannot afford to fund schools, creating a vicious cycle. Letting the kids from those neighbourhoods go elsewhere for their schooling is a logical solution. Breaking the absurd model of local funding from property taxes, which is responsible for numerous distortions and failures, is also logical.

      Going to “national funding” along with national administration would also fix it. Glaeser discusses this. But fixing it is the important thing, and no administration so far has had the intelligence or courage or leadership qualities to try to tackle the problem either way. All power to Trump for being the first, and those who would prefer the national-funding “solution” should have tried it a long time ago. Now they have missed the boat.

  12. Following on from the gas debacle, another prime example of consumer gouging via an industry cartel is the Aussie wine industry: the majors dump vast quantities of wine in the UK and US markets and charge domestic consumers 2 or 3 times the price that our overseas cousins would pay for the same wine. I remember buying bottles of Penfold’s Grange from the UK’s Tesco at around 80 Sterling pb several years ago. Here the same vintage was available at 650-750 AUD retail. A slightly extreme example but the principle holds for many Aussie wines. The self-same cartel gets protected from foreign competition via the Wine Equalization Tax (WET) so there’s no prospect of much choice either — unless you want to pay astronomical prices for average European wines.

    You gotta love being a consumer in this part of the world … although (green shoots), Aldi and Costco now sticking it to the Coles/Woolies cartel.

    Just need the banking cartel to be challenged but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  13. My Tribe, The Dead, and The Living

    My tribe exists in a state of fear,
    My tribe fears the end of time and not enough,
    My tribe has not advanced profoundly from before,
    My tribe still mitigates fear with tribal conflict,
    My tribe does not say “tribalism must end”,
    My tribe says “observe the fear about the end of time and not enough”,
    My tribe wants to look at fear free from my tribal informer,
    My tribe wants to be authentic, finally,
    My tribe wants to be raised from the dead, and to start to live.