Sunday, September 24, 2006

Perth thoughts

I am in Perth for the Australian Conference of Economists. I’ve been talking to businessmen here who describe the local scene as booming and subject to widely-discussed labour supply shortages. I'll meet the academic economists tomorrow.

I’ve visited Perth many times but it does look particularly prosperous now – construction projects everywhere, new cars on the road – generally, evidence of prosperity. Perth certainly is a beautiful city – the urban settlements exploit the attractive Swan River skillfully. I had a stroll down towards East Perth this morning and noticed lots of dense apartment and townhouse developments fronting onto water or parkland. It looks great. Water frontages, in particular, are unbeatable as an attribute for a beautiful city – Perth rivals Sydney in this regard.

This afternoon went to the huge (400 hectare) Kings Park which is adjacent to West Perth. I have driven past it many times but never made the effort to look around. It is a fantastic flora reserve very close to Perth’s centre. Lots of honeyeaters, flowering banksias, dryandras, kangaroo paws, boronias. In my view the West Australian dryandras and banksias make up some of the most spectacular of our native flora –one in particular, banksia coccinea, ranks close to the best native flowers I have ever seen (photo here). I have visited areas where the various Western Australian specialities grow in abundance on past trips – in the south-western corner my favorite locations are around Albany and areas such as Dryandra Woodland and the Stirling Ranges.

But to have some of this flora close to Perth’s centre is a great resource. By the way, I got back from Kings Park on a free public bus. The driver told me that bus travel has been free in Perth’s central areas for 20 years and that train travel is also free close to the city centre. Still he said the CBD gets congested. Perhaps the ‘eastern states’ can learn something from our yokel brothers and sisters in the west. These types of schemes have often been proposed there.


Anonymous said...

Harry, as a person who specializes in micro-economics what would you predict from the supply-side with regard to Commodity prices?

hc said...

The supply-side response will moderate the effects of rapidly growing Chinese and Indian demands.

On the demand side (especially in developing countries) the fetish with commodity-based outputs will ease a bit and the very substantial price hikes will promote reduced resource use, more energy conservation and less pollution.

I think the era of cheap commodity prices is over in the medium term - 20 years or so - but believe prices will moderate substantially.

The boom in the west captures the extent of the supply-side response.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Harry.

Enjoy yourself and drink some Margaret river wines.
The most outstanding area in Australia for wine