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Yes, monetary policy does still work

Did you know that Australia once had a double dissolution election where the trigger was the conduct of monetary policy? It was our second double dissolution election, in 1951  (we are currently looking at our seventh), and the question at hand was the management of the Commonwealth Bank, which

The Middle East in 2016 (part 5): Cultivating order

Part 1 of this seven-part series is here; part 2 here; part 3 here: and part 4 here. In February 2014 I visited Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan, near the Syrian border. According to official estimates it today houses around 80,000 refugees from the conflict in Syria, although in 2014, the Jordanian

The 2016 Lowy Lecture: Exciting times ahead on a sombre day

When Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the 2016 Defence White Paper one month ago he said that 'it sets out a clear eyed and unsentimental appraisal of our strategic environment, the threats and the opportunities.' Last night’s Lowy Lecture, delivered by Mr Turnbull, was an

The Middle East in 2016 (part 1): Levantine limbo

This is the first post in a series of seven on the Middle East in 2016. The first three will look at what I think will happen in the region this year; the second three will discuss how I think Western countries should respond; and a final post will discuss Australian policy. To understand what will

Has Tony Abbott torpedoed the captain's pick?

Tony Abbott’s weekend speech in Tokyo, titled 'Against Strategic Pessimism’, was unsurprising in its robust advocacy of Australia’s 'special relationship' with Japan, based on shared values. Mr Abbott’s correspondingly cautious assessment of China should not shock either, notable though it

Mekong: New photos reveal true scale of dam

Xayaburi Dam under construction, July 2015. (Taken from this PP presentation by Pöyry, posted on a Laos government site.) In an Interpreter post on 14 December 2015 ('What's Happening on the Lower Reaches of the Mekong River?'), I referred to a YouTube video that gave a rare, relatively up-to-

Syria: The gift that keeps on giving

The official announcement today that the government would refuse a US request for additional assets to be deployed in the Middle East against Islamic State came as little surprise. These types of requests rarely come out of the blue, and it is likely that Washington was aware of what Canberra’s

The Big Short: A reminder of the danger of groupthink

Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling at The Big Short premiere.             Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images I’m looking forward to seeing The Big Short, which traces the stories of some who dared to doubt the US housing market before the global financial crisis. Friends and

North Korea's nuclear test not all bad news for China

Media attention since North Korea's nuclear test yesterday has been focused on the veracity of its claims to have exploded a thermonuclear device or 'hydrogen bomb'. This is understandable given that a thermonuclear weapon has a destructive power many orders of magnitude greater than a purely

China's puzzling defence agreement with Australia

Last Thursday, The Australian newspaper ran an editorial, 'Strengthening links with China'. This followed its front-page coverage of the visit to Canberra by China's Chief of General Staff Fang Fenghui, for annual talks with Chief of Defence Force Mark Binskin and Department of Defence Secretary

Why DFAT is wrong on the opportunity cost of FTAs

Last month the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) secretary, Peter Varghese, had this to say about Australia’s participation in the global movement toward preferential free trade agreements (FTAs): To not participate would carry with it a significant potential opportunity cost, as

Turkey has got Syria wrong — again

The shooting down of the Russian aircraft by the Turks and the subsequent death of two Russian servicemen briefly got the tabloids talking about World War III but in reality this was never going to blow up into a direct military confrontation between Moscow and Ankara. What it did demonstrate, once

Decoding China's GOOD approach to the G20

With this year's summit season coming to an end, Turkey will officially hand over the G20 hosting baton to China on 1 December 2015. The Hangzhou Leaders' Summit has already been announced for 4 and 5 September 2016, slightly earlier than previous years to avoid clashing with the US presidential

Discuss: upsides not worth the downsides in FTAs

On Thursday, the Institute is hosting a panel on free trade agreements with me, Jessica Irvine from Fairfax and Luke Nottage, law professor from the University of Sydney. Steve Grenville, former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia will be chairing. There’s a divergence of views on the

Paris attacks cast a shadow over 2015 G20 Summit

By the Lowy Institute's G20 Fellow Tristram Sainsbury and Research Associate Hannah Wurf The 2015 G20 Leaders' Summit will be remembered for taking place in the aftermath of the brutal attacks in Paris, as leaders scrabbled to show unity and collective action. In coverage of the summit, every

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