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For over a quar­ter of a cen­tury our econ­omy mostly grew because of dumb luck.Luck because our coun­try is rel­a­tively large and abun­dant in nat­ural resources, resources that have been in huge demand from a close neigh­bour. Out of all , Aus­tralia ranks just after the Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic of the Congo, Gam­bia and the Lao People’s Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic and just before the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Iran and Liberia. As a whole, the Aus­tralian econ­omy has grown through a prop­erty bub­ble inflat­ing on top of a min­ing bub­ble, built on top of a com­modi­ties bub­ble, dri­ven by a China bub­ble.Australia’s sec­ond biggest export is coal, being the largest exporter in the world sup­ply­ing about 38% of the world’s demand.Pro­duc­tion has been on a tear, with exports increas­ing from 261Mt in 2008 to 388Mt in 2016.This saw, in April of 2016, enough cot­ton trad­ing in a sin­gle day to make a pair of jeans for every­one on the planet, and enough soy­beans for 56 bil­lion serv­ings of tofu, accord­ing to Bloomberg in a report enti­tled “The World’s Most Extreme Spec­u­la­tive Mania Unrav­els in China”. By com­par­i­son, Nasdaq’s daily turnover peaked in early 2000 at 0 bil­lion. New con­tracts were not being cre­ated, vol­ume instead was churn­ing as the hot potato passed between spec­u­la­tors, most com­monly in the night ses­sion, as con­sumers traded after work.

Steel, of course, is made from iron ore, Australia’s biggest export, and fre­quently the country’s main dri­ver of a trade sur­plus and growth.Last Jan­u­ary, China pledged “sup­ply-side reforms” for its steel and coal sec­tors to reduce exces­sive pro­duc­tion capac­ity.In 2016, capac­ity was cut by 6 per­cent for steel and and 8 per­cent for coal.In the first half of 2017 alone, a fur­ther 120 mil­lion tonnes of low-grade steel capac­ity was ordered to close because of pol­lu­tion.This rep­re­sents 11 per­cent of the country’s steel capac­ity and 15 per­cent of annual out­put.To put into per­spec­tive how per­verted things are right now, in Sep­tem­ber 2017, Aus­tria issued a 100 year euro denom­i­nated bond which yields a pathetic 2.1% per annum. The buy­ers of these bonds, who, on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­ity, were most likely in high school or uni­ver­sity dur­ing the global finan­cial cri­sis, think that earn­ing a minis­cule 2.1% per annum every year over 100 years is a bet­ter invest­ment than well any­thing else that they could invest in- stocks, real estate, you name it, for , because oth­er­wise they would lose money.This is even though in 20 years time they’ll be hold­ing a bond with 80 years left to go to be paid out in a cur­rency that may no longer exist.In the­ory mak­ing money cheap to bor­row stim­u­lates invest­ment in the econ­omy; it encour­ages house­holds and com­pa­nies to bor­row, employ more peo­ple and spend more money. After sev­eral failed attempts at insti­tut­ing aus­ter­ity mea­sures across a num­ber of Euro­pean nations with mount­ing pub­lic debt, the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank began its own was used to buy gov­ern­ment bonds which were used to finance infra­struc­ture projects such as over­priced apart­ment blocks, the con­struc­tion of which has under­pinned China’s “mir­a­cle” econ­omy.An alter­na­tive the­ory for is that it encour­ages buy­ing hard assets by mak­ing peo­ple freak out that the value of the cur­rency they are hold­ing is being coun­ter­feited into obliv­ion. Since nobody in China could actu­ally afford these apart­ments, was lent to local gov­ern­ment agen­cies to buy these empty flats. Fed­eral Reserve finally announced an end to the cur­rent pro­gram, with a plan to begin sell­ing-off and reduc­ing its own tril­lion in assets some­day with­out com­pletely blow­ing up the world econ­omy is anyone’s guess.As a quick refresher of how we got here, after the Global Finan­cial Cri­sis, and con­se­quent reces­sion hit in 2007 thanks to delin­quen­cies on sub­prime mort­gages, the U. Fed­eral Reserve began cut­ting the short-term inter­est rate, known as the ‘Fed­eral Funds Rate’ (or the rate at which depos­i­tory insti­tu­tions trade bal­ances held at Fed­eral Reserve Banks with each other overnight), from 5.25% to 0%, the low­est rate in his­tory.When that didn’t work to curb ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and stop growth stag­nat­ing, cen­tral banks across the globe started print­ing money which they used to buy up finan­cial secu­ri­ties in an effort to drive up prices.