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Stephen
Koukoulas

Leading Australian economist.

Profile

Few economists have both the global and local experience of Stephen Koukoulas. He is an economic thought leader in his role with his business, Market Economics.

Stephen is often driving the debate on housing, consumer spending, investment strategies, interest rates and budget policy. He does this by drawing on his unique background including his experience heading global research for TD in London, his role as Chief Economist of Citibank and Former Senior Economic Advisor to the Australian Prime Minister.

When it comes to the economy, Stephen continues to cover the big issues. He does so independently, without the constraints of many of the bank economists who are limited by what they can say. Stephen’s views are presented without fear or favour.
Stephen is the go-to economist for many businesses, investors, fund managers and the media. He is a regular contributor to Yahoo Finance and appears on television including the ABC, The Project and Sky and is regularly called upon to contribute to radio interviews across the country.

As a keynote speaker and panellist Stephen is asked to discuss the economy with audiences as diverse as the corporate world to school students - an affirmation of his ability to turn complex economic analysis into terms mere mortals can understand.

Independent. Impartial. Entertaining

Expertise
Talking Points

The Housing Market

Housing - what is more important and topical for Australian consumers, investors and policy makers alike? And right now, house prices are surging, with low interest rates and pent-up demand from first home buyers driving the surge.
But beware! Australia’s immigration is near zero; yet there are over 180,000 new dwellings being built each year. Unless the international borders open soon, there will be a huge oversupply problem and that spells the price boom in early 2021 ending.
The big question - will prices fall and if so, when?
Making matters more intense is the weakness in wages and growing prospects for interest rate increases in 2022.
In this fast-paced & compelling keynote presentation, audiences discover:
• House prices across cities and regions - there is some intriguing data on supply and demand and what that will mean for differences in prices from city to city
• Household debt remains high - how much more can Australian home owners take on?
• Investors - what about rents? They were weak but now are rising.
• Why it is always a good time to buy a house to live in!

The Kouk's Influencers - Keynote and Economist in Residence

Economics matters. Understanding where the economy is and where it is going will drive profits, investment decisions, employment opportunities and drive the conversation around social impact.
This is why the weekly run of economic news is so important. Keeping up to date with these trends, what they mean for interest rates, the Australian dollar and financial markets is the key to staying ahead of the pack. It is also where policy issues are so important. And this is not just interest rates, but what the government does on tax, spending and changes to rules and regulations.
And of course, the critical thing is what to do about this news, how it might impact your business, your clients and your personal finances.
There are numerous influencers in the economy including (in no particular order):
• Superannuation
• Housing
• Labour Market
• The Next Federal Election
• Retail Sector
• Federal Budget
• Gender Inequality
• Interest Rates
• Unemployment
As an Independent Economist and Social Commentator, Stephen can deliver a keynote, drive a panel discussion or become your Economist in Residence to deliver regular economic updates and commentary that affect you.

Boosting Financial Security for all Australian Women

Stephen delivered a White Paper to the Government outlining the issues associated with the financial security for women. You can read the document here: Boosting Economic Security for All Women

Stephen has presented his paper to a Parliamentary Committee and will be continue to advise the government on gender inequality and women’s financial security issues.

This very topical and relevant subject matter makes for a perfect additional Keynote Topic for Stephen in 2019.

Stephen covered the following in the White Paper:

- The gender Pay Gap
- Superannuation Gap
- Child Care Access
- Workforce Participation
- Access to Education
- What can be done at a government level to address these issues?
- What can your business do to be a leader in this vital issue of equity?
- What are other companies doing to detail with economic and financial security for women?

The Consumer and Retail Spending

Household spending accounts for over half of the economy - it is an important driver of whether times are good or bad. We consumers spent up big during COVID-19 but are now scaling back our spending.
What is the outlook for what we buy, how we spend our money and how much we are likely to spend?
Consumers are being pushed and pulled - limiting new spending because wages growth is weak and household debt is high but are benefitting from rising wealth on the back of rising house price and the lift in the stock market.
In this high-energy & compelling keynote presentation, audiences discover:
• Retail spending is slowing - consumers are holding back their spending
• Consumers are feeling the effect of low wages growth, record debt levels, the end of JobKeeper
• How weak will retail spending be and for how long?
• What is needed to see a turnaround?
• How should retailers react to what could be an erratic year ahead for spending?

The Labour Market

The post-COVID-19 era has seen the labour market in Australia transformed. Immigration has fallen to near zero which means local firms are increasingly relying on local workers.
This had led to skills shortages in some areas, that will only be addressed if higher wages are paid.
Female workforce participation has increased as the economy has recovered from the COVID-19 recession.
Amid all of these changes, wages growth remains weak - near record lows.
An issue to watch for is that for the first time in a decade, rising wages costs, as firms compete for workers. There is tentative evidence of this in some sectors.
What does this mean for you, your business and your employees and the economy in general?
Get the latest update and data from Stephen at your next meeting, event or conference

The Economic Path Ahead - The economy, jobs, skills & budget repair

• THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY: A strong recovery has followed the COVID-19 recession of 2020. A well-contained level of COVID-19 has been vital, as has the policy stimulus from the RBA with near-zero interest rates and the government registering record spending and record budget deficits. How long will interest rates remain near zero? How long will it be before some ‘budget repair’ is needed?
• NEW GOAL - FULL EMPLOYMENT: What is full employment? When the unemployment rate is around 4.5%, we are at full employment. But already, firms are worried about a lack of skilled workers as they look to expand. With international borders closed, they must rely on local talent, rather than visa immigrants. More is needed to boost the skills of local workers and the unemployed.
• A WAGES BOOM?: These skills shortages have seen firms ‘pay up’ for workers - ie, wages growth is picking up. The RBA and Treasury want to see wages growth rise. Good for consumer incomes and spending - firms will lift selling prices (ie inflation) to recoup their additional labor costs. Higher wage growth will, if sustained, feed into higher inflation.
• HOW LONG WILL THE STRONG GROWTH, FALLING UNEMPLOYMENT LAST?: Demographics - population growth - will hold back growth at least until borders are fully reopened. Fewer people undermine the demand for housing. The house price boom is about to end. It also means Australia’s potential growth rate is lower than pre-COVID-19, by around 1% per annum.
• REPAIRING THE BUDGET: A decade of budget deficits, government debt at $1.5 trillion, huge sending commitments - it is too good to be true. The budget repair will be needed if the economy can maintain its current positive momentum. But which areas of spending will / should be cut? What about tax hikes?
• NEAR ZERO INTEREST RATES WILL NOT LAST FOREVER: The RBA had pledged to keep interest rates at 0.1% until 2024. It has made mistakes in the past - is this another? A solid economy, full employment, strong wages growth does not need a 0.1% cash rate. How high will they go and when will the cycle of higher interest rates begin?
Feedback
One of Australia's most influential economists. The Australian Financial Review

One of the most articulate economists in Australia.

Alan Kohler

I've only heard great things about your presentation at the breakfast - so thank you. Clients and staff all raved about you - how engaging, thought provoking and entertaining you were. You made the content come alive.

Randstad

The feedback from the participants has been fantastic. You really make a serious subject interesting and engaging!

Wesfarmers Insurance
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