I recall years ago sitting in a tutorial room in the Commerce Faculty of the University of New South Wales. I was in my third year of studying Economics and the only female in a group of nine. In first year, the lecture room was packed with students eager to learn about the mysterious workings of supply and demand and how a price is determined in a market economy, delving into the nitty gritty of the theory of the firm and watching in youthful wonder as a tutor (not that much older than us babes in the woods) unravelled the workings of fiscal policy, where governments seemed to endlessly collect taxes and spend money to build dams, roads and keep our shores safe from invaders. And their theoretical budgets always strove for balance, unlike our current COVID-related federal tax and spending tale that’s soaring past $80 billion.
By the time I reached third year, graphs and curves and diminishing marginal utility was the order of the day. But somehow, a very interesting Dr Fu Chi Lu managed to keep us engaged and satisfied that we were en route to becoming economists.
I taught Economics to Year 12 students in high schools for a while and did some tutoring at my Alma Mater. By this time, Paul Keating, as Federal Treasurer, had made economics a household discussion and newspapers led with a caption that was pure Keating: “I’ll guarantee if you walk into any pet shop in Australia, the resident galah will be talking about micro-economic policy”.
What you absorb about the economy now is far different because of the subject’s introduction in universities and the likes of Keating, whose wry wit and superb turn of phrase focused the attention of the average Aussie on important subjects that could otherwise be so dull. Twitter, Facebook, traditional newspapers, TV, radio etc regularly make reference to interest rates (anyone who has a mortgage always responds to these words), the Aussie dollar (remember when we used to travel overseas and wanted to know how much our dollar would be worth in euros or pounds or US currency?) and how important it is to understand that the Australian economy, while so strong, is at the mercy of super powers like the US and China. There’s a great line (the origin of which is unclear) that goes “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.” In the whole scheme of things, we’re so unimportant to the global economy and yet so reliant on trade, that this might read “When the US or China sneezes, Australia comes down with a nasty dose of the flu.”
Well, maybe I’m exaggerating because until our pandemic-induced recession (if you want a refresh on what a recession actually is, you can read here), we went 30 years without a slowdown and were the envy of the world. However a lot of our success was so linked to the growth aspirations of the Chinese. And here’s an important thing to remember. We live on an island but in the economic sense, we’re not one. Economics is all about interdependence. Peter Switzer could match the great Keating with the way he explains things in such an amusing way. Peter used to teach Economics for a number of years at both schools and universities, until he carved a name for himself in the media. He’d talk to his “warthogs” (as he’d affectionately call them) about Susan Economics, playing off the old advertising jingle on TV and radio years ago “This goes with this goes with this goes with this, at Susan…” Peter would say: “A lot of economics is “this goes with this” kind of stuff. For example, if interest rates rise, the demand to buy houses eventually falls. If the Aussie dollar drops badly, then people have a lower demand for overseas holidays and the Gold Coast has a bumper year!”
His students not only loved it, they paid him to privately coach them and they remember his antics to this day!
Here at TILLY MONEY, I’ll take you through short courses on economics, so when you’re next in your local pet shop, you might like to have a good talk with the resident galah! And my hope for you is that as you digest the articles, podcasts and lessons that we’ll provide, finally the tables will start to turn (as Tracy Chapman so eloquently sang in her 1988 Talkin Bout A Revolution hit) and there’ll be a revolution not fuelled by guns and hate but by knowledge and the independence that goes with education.
Help us spread the word…what sounds like a whisper now will become a revolution, where women take their rightful place and see more money coming to them as a consequence.
Important: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. Consider the appropriateness of the information in regard to your circumstances.