Two senior fund managers have taken the unusual step of writing to Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg arguing for a change in direction on some key areas of economic policy in circumstances where they have serious concerns about the current low interest rate environment.
The pair, Investors Mutual Limited’s Anton Tagliaferro and Hugh Giddy have written to Frydenberg as a follow-up to a paper they sent to the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe which they said explained their concerns about the longer-term ramifications of using ultra-low interest rates as a policy in trying to stimulate the Australian economy.
Tagliaferro and Giddy, who said they had combined experience of over 50 years managing Australian equities, have recommended the Treasurer sort out the electricity market, streamline the tax system, incentivise superannuation funds to invest in infrastructure and venture capital and continue to encourage Government participation in public-private partnerships.
On the question of sorting out the electricity market, Tagliaferro and Giddy said current high prices were seriously threatening the long-term viability of many industries such as smelting, fertiliser and packaging.
“Having the highest electricity prices in the world is a nonsense when one considers Australia is major exporter of LNG, uranium and coal to the rest of the world,” their letter said. “Reduced restrictions on the extraction of coal seam gas is one area that needs urgent review.”
On the question of incentivising superannuation funds, the pair said areas of investment might require more incentives included investing in Australia’s water extraction and irrigation infrastructure to stimulate productive use of Australia’s vast arid land into more product land.