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Economic depression, delusion and the media

By Malcolm King - posted Monday, 27 April 2020

It's a chicken and egg problem. Which came first? The delusionary business commentators, who believe the economy will magically 'spring back' if the virus leaves these fatal shores or the Pollyanna media, who refuse to write and broadcast that Australia is entering the greatest Depression in its history.

Delusion and denial are now the weight-bearing support beams of Australian democracy.

In the greatest threat to the global financial system, business spin doctors are flogging online seminars about the future of work, the future of cities, the future of real estate. They mix the data up in a bucket to satisfy each audience's expectations.


I call them the Dunciad, after Alexander Pope's poem of the same name.

The Dunciad was an excoriating attack on the political and literary figures of the early 18th century. It describes how powerful idiots bought about the moral and intellectual decline of Great Britain and Europe. Now turn the clocks forward 250 years.

Business editors and media moguls don't want you to believe a major Depression will hit by October, even though:

  • American unemployment has passed 26 million people and is rising;
  • $500 billion was wiped from the ASX in the March quarter;
  • Global trade has slumped 30 per cent;
  • And unemployment in Australia is projected to top three million people.

They suggest these figures are just 'headwinds', the result of 'low business confidence.' Before long, 'green shoots' will sprout and the economy will be 'down-wind sailing' again.

To them, the looming economic catastrophe, which will beggar millions of Australians, is, as the Black Knight said in The Holy Grail, "just a flesh wound."


The great liberal democratic experiment born from the American and French Revolutions is dead. Reason is in retreat as political chaos marches on Britain, Western Europe, America and Australia. Trust in politicians, financial institutions, the media and the church, has crumbled.

Collective ideals such as equality and fraternity, which have been the bedrock of western societies and parliamentary democracy for more than 200 years, buckle beneath our feet.

Social capital, which helped our forebears survive the Great Depression, has been erased by neoliberalism.

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About the Author

Malcolm King is a journalist and professional writer. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University in Adelaide. He runs a writing business called Republic.

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