Aussies pay a terrible price for Jim Chalmers’ L-plates


Australia’s worst modern treasurer stuck his foot in his mouth again yesterday:

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says it’s encouraging that annual inflation has moderated to a two-year low, but the fight is not over as the rate remains higher than the Reserve Bank’s target range.

Wrong. The job is done and the central bank needs to cut ASAP to prevent a recession amid rising real interest rates.

This follows Chalmer’s buffoonery in November when he half-appointed a new RBA governor and board, then jawboned rates lower, giving them no choice but to hike to protect their credibility.

The November hike was too many and broke the consumer over Christmas. Yet here is Jim “Chicken” Chalmers in the new year, jawboning rates higher!


If this bloke were trying to get his macro management learner’s permit, he’d be doing a lot of walking.

Amazingly, monetary policy is the least of Chalmer’s L-plate accidents.

When he first arrived on the job, Chalmers needed to be bold as the Ukraine War erupted, threatening Australia with an energy shock.


Instead, he cowered in fear and allowed local gas prices to rise higher than those in Europe, where the war and shortage were!

Then, Chalmers compounded this immense inflationary shock by dropping an immigration bomb on an already obvious rental and housing shortage, sending CPI even higher.

These three Chalmers segments still comprised nearly 40% of Q4 inflation:


The same immigration smashed wage growth, of course!

The upshot has been a crash in Australian real incomes unseen outside of a depression:

Household disposable income

But Chalmer’s L-plate failures were still not done. While learning his trade by smashing living standards, the excellent treasurer was busy selling Voice and creating pointless and politicised well-being indexes to hide the blundering.

When that didn’t work, and Albanese government polling collapsed, Chalmers mercilessly lied about all of it, pretending incomes were rising when they were being torched.

In summary, Chalmers’ bad judgement resulted in much higher inflation and interest rates than was necessary. Followed now by a much harder economic landing and higher unemployment (in due course) than will be unnecessary. He also delivered a new depth of disenchantment with Canberra in the polity.


Perhaps Treasurer Jim “Chicken” Chalmers now has his macro P’s after compulsively failing but finally overcoming the learner’s test.

Or, perhaps not. A judge overseeing Chalmer’s constant infractions might conclude that the only plausible explanation is that he’s been driving drunk the entire time.

And give him a lifetime ban.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.