David Vines - Transforming Australia into an Outward-Looking Economy: Why the 1940s Matter

Melbourne Institute Seminar Series

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Title: Transforming Australia into an Outward-Looking Economy: Why the 1940s Matter

Abstract: Why is contemporary Australia seen globally as a successful economic nation? Professor David Vines will explore the radical shift in thinking by Nugget Coombs’ generation of macroeconomists, which took place during World War II, and formed the necessary underpinning of the later Hawke-Keating reforms. Before that time Australia had been a protectionist, inward-looking nation, in which macroeconomic policy was constrained by membership of the gold standard. By the 1950s, a Keynesian policy was in place, with a concern for external sustainability as well as for the management of domestic activity. As a result, Australia was able to absorb a very large flow of immigration, and also actively participated in international negotiations about the liberalisation of global trade. It was this secure macroeconomic framework which provided the foundation on which the much later liberalisation of Australia’s own trade policy could be built. A number of economists contributed to this great change in outlook, including Lyndhurst Gilblin, Professor of Economics at Melbourne University, Leslie Melville, Chief Economic Advisor at the Commonwealth Bank, and Trevor Swan, the first Professor of Economics at the Australian National University.

Presenter: David Vines, University of Oxford

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