Why Uber and Airtasker means you won’t get a pay rise

No rate rise – and no pay rise, either. Both are likely to anger different Australian demographics. Neither looks that great for the economy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates on hold for a 17th straight month this week. Perhaps more importantly, it said it had no plans to adjust policy settings anytime soon.

The official cash rate is holding at a record low 1.5 per cent. But soft wage growth and low inflation is what is really causing most concern.

“Notwithstanding the improving labour market, wage growth remains low. This is likely to continue for a while yet,” RBA governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.

“Inflation is likely to remain low for some time, reflecting low growth in labour costs and strong competition in retailing. A gradual pick-up in inflation is, however, expected as the economy strengthens,” he added.

It’s a paradox. The economy is picking up, there is jobs growth, but Australian household budgets are stressed.

Record debt and the impending end of interest free loans is worrying economists. Financial markets are pricing little risk that the RBA will raise interest rates before the end of the year.

One interesting view to emerge from a Monash University poll of economists:  the gig economy, including Uber and freelance website Airtasker has means less bargaining power for Australian workers over what the going rate for a job is.

 Record complaints are making health insurers sick

Following on from our story early this month questioning the value of private health care, the latest State of the Health Funds paper reporters a 30 per cent increase in complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman – a new record.
More than 5700 complained in 2016-17 – much of it was driven by Medibank.
‘‘[ The] increase of over 1300 complaints within one year … is the largest rise we have experienced over the past 10 years,’’ its latest State of the Health Funds report reads.
No wonder Australians are frustrated. There are now more exclusions than ever on policies, gaps are increasingand premiums have risen 70 per cent in a decade.
While it has just over a quarter of the market Medibank accounted for 46.3 per cent of complaints. Most of the angst related to a delay in tax statements and, alarmingly, mistakes in withdrawal from client bank accounts.
The ombudsman’s report shows Medibank, Australian Unity, CUA Health and health.com.au’s share of complaints were greater than their market share in 2016-17 .
The report also shows that among open membership funds with a market share greater than 0.5 per cent, NIB gained 20,200 new members and Bupa 13,800, while Medibank lost 24,200. Medibank , privatised in 2014, lost 45,700 members in 2015-16 .

Rachel David, chief executive of Private Healthcare Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald the number of complaints ‘‘ was low’ ’ considering the large number of policyholders.

How Alec Baldwin got us all in debt

 The lending company Latitude is claiming they bagged a bargain by using the Hollywood actor who fronts their campaigns. Alex Baldwin, famous for his President Trump impersonations, has managed to boost the company’s loan books by a massive amount with one session in a green room costing $1 million.

In a year, his appearances in the ads has boosted Latitude’s loan book from $387 million to $485 million, according to the company this week.

In Oscar week, that’s what we call a performance.

Stop me if this is obvious – but don’t shop when you’re drunk!

New research shows that a few drinks can change the way you shop.I know it sounds obvious, but Finder.com suggest one in five adults shops while under the influence of alcohol. They claim $2.34 billion was spent last year by people under the influence.
‘‘Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and your voice of reason tends to disappear, so you might buy things that you’d otherwise think are too expensive or you don’t need,’’ says Angus Kidman, editor-in-chief at Finder.
‘‘In the pre-internet era, your options for wasting money while drunk were buying a lot of drinks at the bar or paying a lot for a taxi to get home. But now it’s really easy to shop on your phone, which you have with you all the time.’’
Fairfax Media cited Sydneysider Stefan Kalajdzic, 25.
‘‘One day a parcel arrived at home,’’ he said. ‘‘ I opened it and inside was a massive ostrich egg; there’s a hole at the bottom where the yolk’s been drained out, and it sits on a big, gold stand. I checked my PayPal statement and realised I’d bought it three weeks earlier [for $45 plus $15 shipping] when I was at the local pub with a friend. I had no memory of buying it.’’

Enough said.

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