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Wednesday, 10 February


Waist deep in the Big Muddy John Quiggin

The sudden collapse of four for-profit vocational education enterprises including Aspire college is the latest in a string of scandals, failures and license revocations in the sector.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Apollo Education Group, owner of the “University” of Phoenix, has been taken private for $1 billion, a fraction of its peak market value. UoP pioneered the model of providing a bogus education to publicly funded students, ripping off both the students and the public purse. As the US has cleaned up the worst abuses, UoP and others have seen their profits shrink, to the point of bankruptcy in some cases.

The provision of public funds to for-profit operators has been a predictable, and predicted disaster. Of all the disasters perpetrated under the banner of microeconomic reform, education reform has probably been the worst.

In these circumstances, it would make sense for the national government, which has borne much of the cost, to take over the vocational education sector, properly fund the public TAFE system, and close down the for-profit sector, as was recently done in Chile.

The idea of a national takeover is, indeed, on the cards. But far from closing down the for-profit sector, it appears the Turnbull government plans to push the reform agenda even further.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said, Carry On.


Renewables move up US, EU power ranks Renew Economy

Renewables eclipsed fossil fuels as largest source of new power capacity added to US electrical grids in 2015, for second year in a row.


Tesla confirms mass-market Model 3 could cost as little as $25,000 in US Renew Economy

Tesla says Model 3 could cost as little as $US25,000 once US tax credits factored in – a mass market price that could "upend US auto market."


Australian super funds lose $5.6 billion on fossil fuel investments Renew Economy

Australian superannuation funds have collectively lost over $5.6 billion on their fossil fuel investments in last two years.


Redflow to start selling home battery storage in March Renew Economy

Australian battery company Redflow says plug and play residential model of zinc bromine technology to be launched on Australian market in just over a month.


Obama’s Clean Power Plan handed setback by US Supreme Court Renew Economy

President Obama's landmark regulation to cut emissions from stationary polluters -- the Clean Power Plan -- was just issued a stay by US Supreme Court.


AGL seeks investors’ funds to help with large scale renewable target Renew Economy

AGL creates new investment fund for large-scale renewables, with aim of attracting third party funds. But there will be no new projects committed in 2016.


Sydney home becomes ‘mini power station’ with solar + Powerwall + GridCredits Renew Economy

Australia’s first household to add a Tesla Powerwall can this week begin buying and selling electricity on the market, after the addition of a world-leading software program by Reposit Power.


Australian solar PV installations hit the 5 gigawatt mark Renew Economy

Solar power in Australia has grown to 5 gigawatts and was the largest source of new power in the country in 2015. It now represents 9% of Australia's total electricity generation capacity.


AGL eyes virtual power plants in link with battery storage developer Sunverge Renew Economy

AGL invests in battery storage software developer as it moves towards a time when it can use solar and storage from its consumers as a "virtual power plant". Also announces a "solar command App" and a big boost in solar sales.


Greg Hunt wins “world’s best minister” award in Dubai Renew Economy

Greg Hunt wins inaugural "world's best minister" award in Dubai, for the emissions bought by the Emissions Reduction Fund.

Tuesday, 09 February


Is exchange rate depreciation inflationary? Bill Mitchell – billy blog

One of the first things that conservatives (and most economists which is typically a highly overlapping set) raise when Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) proponents suggest that increased deficits are essential to reduce mass unemployment is the so-called balance of payments constraint. Accordingly, we are told that the capacity of a nation to increase domestic employment is limited by the external sector. And these constraints have become more severe in this age of multinational firms with their global supply chains and the increased volume of global capital flows. I will address the specific issue of a balance of payments constraint on real GDP growth (that is, the limits of fiscal stimulus) in a future blog. But today I want to consider the so-called Exchange Rate Pass-Through (ERPT) effects of that are part of the balance of payments constraint story. The mainstream narrative goes like this. Higher wage demands associated with full employment and/or stronger imports associated with higher fiscal deficits lead to external imbalances due to rising imports and loss of competitiveness in international markets (eroding export potential). In a system of flexible exchange rates, the currency begins to lose value relative to all other currencies and the rising import prices (in terms of the local currency) are passed-through to the domestic price level – with accelerating inflation being the result. If governments persist in pursuing domestic full employment policies the domestic inflation worsens and the hyperinflation is the result, with a chronically depreciated currency. Real standards of living fall and a general malaise overwhelms the nation and its citizens. I am sure you have heard that narrative before – it is almost a constant noise coming from the deficit phobes. Like most of the conservative economic claims and I include the austerity-lite Leftist parties in this group, it turns out that reality is a bit different. Here is some discussion on that i...

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