Whitlam vs Nixon and Ford: Australia vs the US in the early 1970s

Mon, 10 Nov 2014  |  

A final word, for now, on the economic record of the Whitlam government.

Below is a very simple comparison on a number of key data and policy dynamics in the early 1970s. Gough Whitlam was Australia's Prime Minister from late 1972 to late 1975, while Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were Presidents of the US over that time.

Who got better economic outcome - Australia or the US? You be the judge.

The unemployment rate:

US: 4.9 per cent in 1973 rising to 8.5 per cent in 1975.
Australia: 1.8 per cent in 1973 rising to 4.6 per cent in 1975.

Inflation:

US: 3.3 per cent at the end of 1972 rising to a peak of 12.4 per cent during 1974.
Australia: 4.7 per cent at the end of 1972, rising to a peak of 17.7 per cent in March 1975.

GDP:

US: A deep recession with GDP falling in consecutive years, down 0.5 per cent 1974 and down a further 0.2 per cent in 1975.
Australia: GDP rose 1.5 per cent in 1974 and rose 1.9 per cent in 1975 and while there was a 'technical' recession within that time (two quarters of falling real GDP), the annual data showed continued economic growth.

Government spending:
US: Rose from 18.1 per cent of GDP in 1973 to 20.8 per cent of GDP in 1976.
Australia: Rose from 18.5 per cent of GDP in 1971-72 to 24.5 per cent of GDP in 1975-76.

The Budget balance:
US: The budget deficit rose from 1.1 per cent of GDP in 1973 to 4.1 per cent of GDP in 1976 with a deficit every year in between.
Australia: A budget surplus of 2.0 per cent of GDP in 1971-72 moving to a deficit of 1.8 per cent of GDP in 1975-76, but there were surpluses in 1972-73, 1973-74, 1974-75.

I didn't realise the policies of the 'reckless', 'disastrous', 'worst government ever' Whitlam era extended to the US. Facts are funny things ay? 

 

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