Counting the Cost

Dark days down under?

A look at the state of the Australian economy; counting coconuts in India; and the American war on poverty.

Australia, a country blessed with mineral and energy resources, escaped the Great Recession but it is now paying the price as unemployment and budget deficits rise.

It is a good economy – a so-called Goldilocks economy – the perfect low mix of inflation, unemployment and government debt.

But the mining boom that is almost inextricably tied Australia’s economy to China’s massive demand for minerals is actually starting to go the same way of the Chinese economy: it is slowing. And the trouble is there is not much else to take up the slack.

Unemployment is rising and is expected to hit 6 percent this year which is a big thing for a country that really did survive the global economic downturn pretty well. Also Australia’s budget deficit is expected to hit $42bn this fiscal year. 

With growth slowing, has Australia tied itself too closely to Asia’s economic boom and bust?

We speak to our Sydney-based correspondent Andrew Thomas about the state of the Australian economy. 

Coconuts away

Now global demand for coconut oil used in cooking, and in skin and hair products is raising concerns about a shortage of the fruit.

India, for example, harvests about 17 billion of them a year and as Faiz Jamil reports now from Kerala in India’s south, they are getting creative to meet that demand.

The US war on poverty

The United States made a little history this week by appointing the first woman to run the Federal Reserve. Janet Yellen, a 67-year-old economist, professor, and former vice-chair of the Fed, takes over from Ben Bernanke who was chairman for the last eight years. 

And she may face a tough road ahead as David Nelson, the chief strategist at Belpointe Asset Management explains.

Yellen’s role will be crucial to President Obama and the Democrats as they grapple with the issue of poverty.

Because the 1 percent – 99 percent issue has not changed despite the efforts of the Occupy movement. And really the wealth gap is something the US has been struggling with for the last five decades.

Patty Culhane reports on the war on poverty in the US which was launched 50 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson – but in 2014, the picture is still pretty bleak.


Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria  @KamahlAJE  and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali