My Country Dorothea Mackellar

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 1:35:33 PM

My Country Dorothea Mackellar

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My Country by Dorothea Mackellar

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The current drought has already reduced farm output by around 6 per cent and total GDP by about 0. Even assuming that rainfall returns towards average soon, the drought will continue to weigh on aggregate GDP during However, the effect of the drought on aggregate output and inflation is finite, though its impact on the people and businesses affected can last much longer.

We are used to climate having a temporary effect though sometimes severe on output and prices in Australia. Agriculture is the prism through which we have historically thought about the effect of climate on the economy. Today, climate change presents significant risks and opportunities for a broader part of the economy than agriculture, though the impact on agriculture continues to be significant. I will talk about how climate change affects the objectives of monetary policy and some of the challenges that arise in thinking about climate change. Then I will use two current examples of how climate change is affecting the economy to illustrate these issues.

Finally, I will also briefly discuss how climate change affects financial stability. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC report documents that 1 degree of warming has already occurred from pre-industrial levels as a result of human activities. That is the average outcome, with some areas experiencing greater warming.

There is also likely to be significant volatility around that outcome, with an increase in the frequency of extreme temperatures. There is also a greater possibility of compound events, where two or more climatic events combine to produce an outcome that is worse than the effect of one of them occurring individually. Combined with the increased volatility, this increases the likelihood of non-linear impacts on the economy.

They also provide evidence on what change is predetermined and what can be affected by actions to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. These issues are central to businesses, households and government. The policy environment has a key effect as well as the climatic environment. It is worth noting that the effect on the Australian economy is not just a function of the domestic political environment, but also that of other countries, most notably our trading partners. I will return to this later. The economics profession has examined the effects of climate change at least since Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus in Since then, it has become an area of considerably more active research in the profession.

How does climate affect monetary policy? Hence the effect of climate on these variables is an appropriate way to consider the effect of climate change on the economy and the implications for monetary policy. The economy is changing all the time in response to a large number of forces. Monetary policy is always having to analyse and assess these forces and their impact on the economy.

But few of these forces have the scale, persistence and systemic risk of climate change. A longstanding way of thinking about monetary policy and economic management is in terms of demand and supply shocks. The monetary policy response to a positive demand shock is straightforward: tighten policy. Climate events have been good examples of supply shocks. Indeed, droughts are often the textbook example used to illustrate a supply shock. A negative supply shock reduces output but increases prices. That is a more complicated monetary policy challenge because the two parts of the RBA's dual mandate, output and inflation, are moving in opposite directions.

Historically, the monetary policy response has been to look through the impact on prices, on the presumption that the impact is temporary. The banana price episode in after Cyclone Yasi is a good example of this. The spike in banana prices and inflation was temporary, although quite substantial. It boosted inflation by 0. The Reserve Bank looked through the effect of the banana price rise on inflation. After the banana crop returned to normal, prices settled down and inflation returned to its previous rate. The response to such a shock is relatively straightforward if the climate events are temporary and discrete: droughts are assumed to end; the destruction of the banana crop or the closure of the iron ore port because of a cyclone is temporary; things return to where they were before the climate event.

That said, the output that is lost is generally lost forever. It is not made up again later, but rather output returns to its former level. The recent IPCC report documents that climate change is a trend rather than cyclical, which makes the assessment much more complicated. What if droughts are more frequent, or cyclones happen more often? The supply shock is no longer temporary but close to permanent. That situation is more challenging to assess and respond to. A relevant question for monetary policy is how quickly and easily the economy adjusts to climate-related shocks, particularly if the shocks are more extreme. Both the impact of the shocks together with the adjustment to those shocks affect the macroeconomic trajectory. The timing and speed of the response by households, businesses and governments is likely to affect the economic outcomes.

In economic terms borrowed from physics , this is described as hysteresis or path dependence. Decisions that are taken now can have significant effects on future climate trends and can limit or eliminate the ability to mitigate the effect of those trends. Hysteresis is complicated for macroeconomic policies such as monetary policy to deal with. Research into hysteresis in the labour market has documented the long-lasting effects of large rises in unemployment and the difficulty in reversing those effects.

How can we gain insights into the potential impacts of climate change on output and inflation? One avenue is to use scenario analysis. There are some useful studies that look at the impact of climate change on particular sectors of the economy. They are often, by design and necessity, partial equilibrium; that is, taking into consideration only a particular market to analyse the impact. But the effect on the overall economy depends on what else is happening. General equilibrium analysis provides the opportunity to consider how prices adjust and how people respond to price signals in the whole economy.

The analytical approach of looking at things in general equilibrium is a critical part of the economics tool kit. It is an important contribution the economics profession can make to the climate change discussion. However, general equilibrium models often provide only a comparative static view. That is, the economy is in one equilibrium now and in the future it will be in another equilibrium. But for monetary policy, we very much care about the dynamics of moving from one equilibrium to another and also we are generally not dealing with an economy in equilibrium.

How long will it take the economy to adjust? Monetary policy has its maximum effect over a horizon of two or so years. Much of the adjustment may be taking place beyond that horizon but we very much need to be alert to when it is having a material influence within that horizon. To do that, we need to have an understanding of what the transition path might look like. Thus for monetary policy we need to assess both the direct physical impact of climate change and also we need to assess the transition adjustment path.

What will the inflation and output outcomes be along that adjustment path? How should monetary policy respond to these outcomes? We also need to be aware that decisions taken now by businesses and government may have a sizeable influence on that transition path. Both the physical impact of climate and the transition path can cause both shocks and cause the trend to change.

The challenges we have to address are to take the outcomes from climate modelling and map them into our economic modelling. Similarly, the scenario analysis from climate models needs to be translated into the horizons of our economic models, taking account of price changes and how that affects decision-making. General equilibrium analysis also doesn't always take account of adjustment burdens and costs. I see that as one lesson from the debate around trade liberalisation. Trade theory clearly acknowledges that there are winners and losers from trade but that the winners can compensate the losers.

But it is clear from the current debate that, in practice, the compensation generally has not occurred. Events « October ». Read More. Play Discover the town of Gunnedah and all of our surrounding regions. Take a look at our maps here and plan where you want to go! Stay There is much to see in and do in Gunnedah and the surrounding regions. Call in to the Visitor Information Centre to find out more. What's On Our events calendar is full all year round with a variety of art, cultural, and many more events held throughout the year.

Visitor Guide Check out what is on offer from the large range of community organisations, which are the heart and soul of Gunnedah.

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