Doctor In The House

The oddly-trained man helming a tinderbox economy is armed with folly and kero. Burchell Wilson:

Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers may have a PhD but it’s not in anything that matters and definitely not in economics. As far as I can tell, Chalmers essentially earned his doctorate by haunting the political science faculty at Australian National University and writing an extended hagiography of Paul Keating. Nice work if you can get it. The Treasurer didn’t have much to do with economics or finance in his undergraduate studies either, taking on an arts degree and not bothering to make it respectable by knocking over honours. The bottom line: Chalmers is dangerously unqualified to be Treasurer of the world’s twelfth-largest economy.

On a happier note for Chalmers, he outranks Queensland doctor of trade unions, Steven Miles.
This entry was posted in Economics and the economy, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Doctor In The House

  1. False Equivalence says:

    Fair go CL. How many Treasurers in Australia have any academic qualification in economics? And the ones who did – like Swan (!) – aren’t exactly a testament!
    Ralph Willis and John Kerin were economists. But not Crean or Cairns. Costello wasn’t. Nor Morrison. Hockey! I am in shock merely reviewing this list.

  2. Fat Tony says:

    …world’s twelfth-largest economy.

    They’ll remedy that quick smart

  3. C.L. says:

    FE, I hope Professor Sinclair Davidson isn’t around but I agree that an economics degree doesn’t matter much for a Treasurer. Peter Walsh in finance was pretty damned good and he had no formal training.

    Pretty daffy thesis topic, though. I’m surprised it was even allowed given the high threshold for originality required for a doctoral dissertation. I find it hard to believe he had anything new to say about Keating.

  4. NoFixedAddress says:

    Fat Tony says:
    5 August, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    …world’s twelfth-largest economy.

    They’ll remedy that quick smart

    lol with tears.

  5. NoFixedAddress says:


    Never ever ever employ an ANU graduate including cooking your hamburger.

  6. NoFixedAddress says:

    used to be a great bar at ANU though.

  7. Entropy says:

    Peter Walsh in finance was pretty damned good and he had no formal training


    Yes but he had real world experience running a high risk wheat and sheep farm in WA.

  8. Petros says:

    That’s the more important distinction, Entropy. There are precious few politicians with real world experience. Malcolm Roberts is one and funnily enough he is right about the BS regarding the economy, immigration etc.

  9. Rockdoctor says:

    I was a bit young for Walsh but do remember him. I thought Costello did a good job especially paying back debt and the futures fund but lost it with middle class welfare that is now a honey pot to the third world.

    The Dr part I am starting to get tired of, it reeks of pretentiousness. Fair call the media may be the worst offenders with the nudge nudge wink wink “he’s a doctor” though. Most punters I reckon wouldn’t dig deeper than the headlines to work out his field is in Political Science not economics. That IMO is a problem he should clarify.

  10. Buccaneer says:

    Does anyone think that the media wouldn’t tear to pieces a coalition treasurer who tried to present as an expert with a fan boy thesis on Tony Abbott to get a doctorate of political science? Who is combing through this thing?

  11. NoFixedAddress says:

    Costello did stuff all.

    It was the rivers of taxation gold from the then mining boom that ‘fixed’ the budget that he and Howard proceeded to squander on woke communist/socialist bulltish.

    The Future Fund was and is set up to pay so called public servant pensions which may include politicians.

  12. Not Trampis says:

    The main reason costello paid back debt was the privatisation of Telstra. He was so confident of his ability that he always had a senior person of treasury at work whilst question time was on.
    Frydenburg had only a legal degree. Morrison’s thesis was on the brethren in his honours year. Keating did not even have that.

    You examine how good they were AFTER they finish. Chalmers is making all the right noises and is quite confident in speaking.

    I always felt sorry for Kerin. got caught in the Hawke/ Keating wars and was sacked because he forgot what GOS was in the national accounts. A very funny bloke when speaking.

    Jim Cairns had a Phd in economic history and was hopelss

  13. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    Chalmers is making all the right noises and is quite confident in speaking.

    Sounds like the makings of a good con man.

  14. Rockdoctor says:

    Agree with BJ on Chalmers. Comes across swarmy and well he is associated with Wayne Swan so my expectations aren’t exactly high.

  15. Not Trampis says:

    Swan saved us eventually from the GFC after finally listening to Henry and Stevens. His main fault was bringing down the tightest budget in history ( the one Davidson famously called expansionary) way too soon.
    Swan also had the problem at one stage of a rising $A and falling commodity prices. When they rose he did not get any tax dividend.

    Most who criticise Swan do not have a clue what they are talking about.

  16. Rockdoctor says:

    OK am old enough to know about Henry and Stevens. Sorry I have the same low opinion of Stevens and Henry’s abilities. Plenty of argument at the time as I was around exec’s on mine sites Australia didn’t need to go so hard. Hell we didn’t even slow exploration much and was a good excuse to clean out dead wood in the workforce. The later downturn around 2015-16 we knew was coming but the entirely predictable results from Gillards Carbon Tax and Rudd’s MRRT made that downturn much worse. I spent 4 years in another industry as a result.

    This little gem came from Henry:

    “Henry Report as saying there would be no reduction in mining activity but instead that any behavioural changes are small and are less than the changes in behaviour of the equivalent collection of some other taxes

    He was wrong big time and still won’t admit it was a mistake. He still bemoans the removal of bot the MRRT & Carbon Tax.

    As for Glenn Stevens, raising interest rate during an election campaign only to lower them after deserves all the scrutiny and raised eyebrows it brought.

    I suppose in the end it depends of which side of the isle you sit on, I am prepared to agree on that point.

  17. Boambee John says:

    Non Mdentis

    Most who criticise Swan do not have a clue what they are talking about.

    Or aren’t Labor sycophants?

  18. and says:

    The Treasurer – Dr. Snake Chalmers

  19. Buccaneer says:

    Swan and Rudd saved no one during the gfc. Swan downplayed the crisis and the shat the bed when he couldn’t deny it any more. Instituting a bank guarantee that saved no one but hollowed out the financial services sector and entrenched the big banks. The unemployment that resulted was epic. Small mortgage lenders have never properly recovered.

    The thing that actually saved us were the asic and apra reforms made by Costello. The evidence of this truth is that Gillard shopped them around post gst as reforms other countries should do to be like us.

  20. Petros says:

    The GFC was not global. China powered through and as a result we were hardly affected.

  21. Not Trampis says:

    err it was global. It even affected China. We got through the GFX before China did.
    Of course the RBA raised interest rates. inflation was on the rise.

    Just what reforms Costello instituted are you talking about. Unemployment rose to 5.9% and then started to fall modestly because Swan’s fiscal policy was way too tight. Remember he dis institute a budget which was easily the tightest in budget history. He cut expenditure in nominal not just real terms.

    A thesis on Keating would need a lot of economic thinking behind it as the various biographies show.

  22. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    Remember he dis institute a budget

    How do you “dis institute” a budget? Or are you simply babbling again?

    PS, repeating rubbish a hundred times does not improve its quality.

  23. NoFixedAddress says:


    The wombat bum sniffer was and is an ignorant tuckfard and typical of the ignorance in their “public servants”.

  24. Buccaneer says:

    Costello, made significant reforms before the GFC to ensure financial institutions including banks and insurers had to adhere to proper product disclosure. Included in these changes were requirements for adequate capital to lending ratios, something that would have avoided some of the problems that occurred with banks in the US and the UK. Also a stack of other requirements that made lending more secure here. We also did not have a huge exposure to the securitisation products and US mortgage market.

    Swan shit the bed because no Australian bank had the same liability problem as with the US. In addition, Australian banks are protected compared to US banks from mortgage stress as lenders realise losses when a borrower defaults in the US, in Australia the borrower realises the loss. A run on Australian banks was structurally much less likely to happen.

    The bank guarantee made a huge mess and the stimulus packages really at best made up for that poor decision. But probably did sfa.

    Not sure why I’m responding to someone whose main argument is the gfc was global because it has global in the name. Markets don’t have the same rules across country lines.

    A thesis on Keating, he implemented Howard’s economic reform package except the gst and individual bargaining, because he was too gutless, the end. How anyone could get a doctorate for that is mystifying.

    Rejoinder, Gillard pretty much reversed all the industrial relations stuff Keating did.

  25. NoFixedAddress says:

    After Whitlam was Gillard.

  26. Entropy says:

    You don’t need it be an economist to be a good treasurer, as long as the under treasurer is of any decent quality.

    In fact, as no doubt as Steven Kates might say, most modernly trained economists are schooled in demand side economics which has as its greatest facility the ability to give a framework for politicians to freely do what they want to do anyway, bribe voters with massive amounts of OPM.

    Not for them the tedious and acrimonious yards of working out how to make production and markets more efficient. Too hard, and less ticket clipping opportunities for political and corporate mates that way anyway. And rather than the children of John Stone, Treasury is these days infested with pale, pasty faced third gen public servants incapable of filling their suits who believe nothing happens without government fiat.

  27. Not Trampis says:

    golly gosh Canada got through the GFC without the banks tanking and guess what they had never heard of Costello. The authorities had since year dot ensured if banks made bad decisions then their shareholders got hit not the depositors.
    It helps as Canada found out that if you have only a few banks then it is easy to regulate them properly.
    The bank guarantee was needed. the CBA at one stage could not borrow money from anywhere overseas.
    A run did occur on one bank and it was taken over.

    Australia di not have a recession. This was because of the stimulus that was done by Swan. his only problem was he tightened too quickly and the Catallaxy clowns at the time di not even know.

  28. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis didn’t so much drink the Kool Aid, as he swam in it.

  29. Jannie says:

    I remember Swan. He announced that he had a budget surplus, 500 times maybe. In the future he said. He lied.

  30. Buccaneer says:

    Thanks for bringing up Canada, they didn’t need a bank guarantee, because like us, their banks were not exposed to the securitisation products or the the dysfunctional us mortgage market.

    How dumb does one have to be to call other people clowns when you are so badly informed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *