Organs 'too risky' to donate may be safer than we think. We crunched the numbers and here's what we found

Accepting a donor kidney with a small risk of carrying HIV or hepatitis B or C might be worth thinking about.from www.shutterstock.comOrgans from potential donors once rejected as being unsafe to tran...

Karen Waller, PhD candidate, University of Sydney - avatar Karen Waller, PhD candidate, University of Sydney

Asylum seekers have a right to higher education and academics can be powerful advocates

Australia’s refugee policy has led to a two-track education system. Those processed offshore, and deemed refugees by the time they have arrived in Australia, are entitled to fee support for univ...

Merrilyn Delporte, PhD Candidate, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Merrilyn Delporte, PhD Candidate, Queensland University of Technology

Lesson for Australia. Make it hard for people to get benefits, and they'll stop, but they mightn't get jobs

Australia, like the United States, makes it hard for people who get benefits to stay on them. It’s not simply a matter of withdrawing benefits as people get jobs and work more hours – some...

David C. Ribar, Professorial Research Fellow, University of Melbourne - avatar David C. Ribar, Professorial Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

No god but God: a breathtaking exhibition bringing Islamic art out of the shadows

The biggest ever display of Islamic art at the Art Gallery of South Australia holds breathtaking masterpieces, and important lessons for all. Art Gallery of South Australia/Saul SteedIn 2005, the Art ...

Ana Silkatcheva, Doctoral Candidate (Oriental Studies - Islamic Art and Archaeology), University of Oxford; Curatorial Researcher, Nicholson Collection, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney - avatar Ana Silkatcheva, Doctoral Candidate (Oriental Studies - Islamic Art and Archaeology), University of Oxford; Curatorial Researcher, Nicholson Collection, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney

Labor announces inquiry by former attorney-general Lavarch into scandal-ridden NSW head office

The ALP has announced an inquiry into the head office of the NSW ALP, after weeks of shocking revelations at the Independent Commission against Corruption about scandals in the handling of donations.T...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the Extinction Rebellion protests - and Australia's responsibility at the Turkish-Syrian border

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Deep Saini and Michelle Grattan discuss the acts of civil disobedience by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion - including the harsh bail condit...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Cattle prods and welfare cuts: mounting threats to Extinction Rebellion show demands are being heard, but ignored

Scores of arrests have been made across Australia as the Extinction Rebellion enters its fifth day of protests. The activists are desperately trying to force the Australian government to take serious ...

Piero Moraro, Lecturer in Criminal Justice, Charles Sturt University - avatar Piero Moraro, Lecturer in Criminal Justice, Charles Sturt University

Can Eliud Kipchoge run a sub-2hr marathon? It all comes down to 15 extraordinary seconds

UPDATE: Eliud Kipchoge successfully broke the 2-hour marathon barrier in Vienna on October 12, 2019, posting a time of 1h 59m 40s. However, it will not be recognised as an official world record, due t...

Simon D Angus, Associate Professor, Monash University - avatar Simon D Angus, Associate Professor, Monash University

We thought Australian cars were using less fuel. New research shows we were wrong

Traffic congestion on the M5 motorway in Sydney. Government assumptions that Australian cars are becoming more fuel efficient are incorrect, research shows.Dean Lewins/AAPIn several speeches of late, ...

John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar John Quiggin, Professor, School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Tropic of Shakespeare: what studying Macbeth in Queensland could teach us about place and shipwrecks

Macbeth's Scottish heaths may seem a long way from tropical Queensland, but there are points of connection.Unsplash/Matt Riches, FALWhen you imagine the setting for Macbeth, misty heaths, battlefields...

Claire Hansen, Lecture in English/Writing, James Cook University - avatar Claire Hansen, Lecture in English/Writing, James Cook University

Bees can learn higher numbers than we thought – if we train them the right way

Honeybees: nature's maths whizzes.SR Howard, Author providedBees are pretty good at maths – as far as insects go, at least. We already know, for example, that they can count up to four and even ...

Adrian Dyer, Associate Professor, RMIT University - avatar Adrian Dyer, Associate Professor, RMIT University

As Turkish troops move in to Syria, the risks are great – including for Turkey itself

Turkish armoured vehicles drive down a road during a military operation in Kurdish areas of northern Syria.AAP/EPA/STRTurkey did not waste much time in launching an attack on Syrian soil just days aft...

Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Director of The Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation and Executive Member of Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University - avatar Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Director of The Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation and Executive Member of Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University

Endometriosis costs women and society $30,000 a year for every sufferer

It can be difficult to get pain from endometriosis under control.ShutterstockThe average cost for a woman with endometriosis both personally and for society is around A$30,000 a year, according to our...

Mike Armour, Post-doctoral research fellow, Western Sydney University - avatar Mike Armour, Post-doctoral research fellow, Western Sydney University

Points for tries? The Rugby World Cup shows how bonus schemes can come unstuck

If you want to know how bonus schemes can come unstuck, take a look at the Rugby World CupIt’s inching its way towards the end of the group stage in Japan, where Australia takes on Georgia tonig...

Liam Lenten, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University - avatar Liam Lenten, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University

The facts are not in dispute.

Annual GDP growth has fallen to 1.8%. On a per-capita basis we have had three consecutive quarters of negative growth. The last time that happened was during the drought and recession of 1982, almost four decades years ago.

The most recent inflation reading was literally zero. Real wage growth has been stagnant for six years. Household debt is nearly double disposable income. And underemployment is more than 8%, on top of a 5.2% rate of unemployment.

What is in dispute is what to do about it.

We’ve entered secular stagnation

After being been told for years that the economy is in good shape and that we are “transitioning away from the mining boom”, it’s time to face the reality that, like most advanced economies, we are in a low-growth, low-interest rate, low-inflation trap.

Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has argued for some time that advanced economies, almost universally, are suffering from what he calls “secular stagnation” — a protracted period of low growth caused by too much savings chasing too few productive investment opportunities.

If the description applies to us, and it does, there are only two ways to escape it.

We’ve two options

One is unconventional monetary policy: measures that have the effect that pushing interest rates below zero would have.

The other is aggressive fiscal policy: either big (and if necessary, repeated) tax cuts or a big (and if necessary, repeated) boost in government spending, each of which would put the surplus at risk.

What would an aggressive-enough monetary policy look like?

The starting point is a concept known as the “equilibrium real interest rate”. It’s the real (inflation-adjusted) rate of interest consistent with stable macroeconomic performance (which means full employment without financial bubbles).

1: Aggressive monetary policy

There is compelling evidence that in advanced economies such as Australia the equilibrium real interest rate is negative.

But getting there in a low-inflation environment is hard. The Reserve Bank can, if it chooses, set the cash rate as low as 0% (this week it cut it to 1.25%) but it can’t safely move it much lower than zero. If it did, if people and firms found themselves having to pay money in order to keep money in banks, they might simply take their money out, giving the Reserve Bank even less control.

This problem is known as the “zero lower bound”. It means that if the bank needs to cut rates beyond than zero it’ll probably have to do something else that has a similar effect.

The most likely candidate is “quantitative easing” (QE), whereby the central bank buys long-term government bonds and other securities from investors that have them, effectively forcing cash into their hands, which the zero interest rate means they have little choice but to spend.

It shows up in lower longer-term interest rates (rates for borrowing 5, 10 or even 30 years into the future) and should boost spending and borrowing just as much as cutting short-term rates.

Read more: Secular stagnation: it's time to admit that Larry Summers was right about this global economic growth trap

There are at least three difficulties with QE in Australia.

The first is that because the Reserve Bank has never done it before, there are questions about how it would mechanically execute on it. The United States and European experience is helpful in providing a template.

The second difficulty is getting out. Nobody, including the US Federal Reserve, really knows what happens when QE is unwound.

Third, if secular stagnation persists, then QE needs to be a long-term strategy. But is it possible for a central bank to expand its balance sheet buying bonds and securities indefinitely, even if it was buying them at a modest pace? Again, nobody knows.

2: Aggressive fiscal policy

If nothing else, the headaches with monetary policy suggest that fiscal policy might be an attractive alternative. It might also be more effective.

As Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe noted in a speech on Tuesday, done in a good way government spending on infrastructure could both boost the economy and boost longer term productivity, giving a double benefit. It could be complemented by “structural policies that support firms expanding, investing, innovating and employing people”.

It’s hard to argue with Lowe’s logic. So hard in fact that some of us have been saying exactly what he just said for some time.

A quicker way to boost the economy would be to splash cash, either as Kevin Rudd did in the form of cash payments during the global financial crisis, or in the form of tax offsets of the kind the Morrison government announced in the 2018 and 2019 budgets.

Read more: It’s the budget cash splash that reaches back in time

Delivered straight into bank accounts, both have much the same effect, even though one is classified as spending and the other as cutting tax.

The obstacle to doing such things is this government’s – make that this country’s – obsession with balanced budgets.

The surplus can wait

I have argued strongly and still believe that debt and deficits do matter, but at the moment we are in serious danger of falling into recession. That makes it imperative to act.

Given the politics of budget deficits and the narratives around economic management it might be that the burden of action falls on the organisation the least able to pull it off in the present circumstances. That’s the Reserve Bank.

If Australia does dip into recession in the next year or two it will be an unforced error.

Not only would the government be responsible for it by not having taken strong enough action on spending when it could, the bank would also be responsible by taking action too late and letting things get to the stage where it had to act while interest rates were near zero.

Read more: Expect weak economic growth for quite some time. What Wednesday's national accounts tell us

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/vital-signs-if-we-fall-into-a-recession-and-we-might-well-have-ourselves-to-blame-118387