Ross nominated Paul Keating and I think John Howard as the other two best Treasurers, Keating for floating the dollar and Howard for not letting the banks loan money to people who had no chance of paying. That was what the rest of the world did, particularly the United States of America, bringing about the collapse of Fanny May and Freddie Mac which led to the collapse Lehmann Brothers bank and the GFC.
He said the constant aim of people for more material goods had to stop, it was not sustainable.
He also said that the basket case that was Europe after the downturn was going to cause more problems, particularly in the case of Greece.
I remember being in Greece in 1991 and it was virtually a cash economy. I was told the only people who paid any tax were those who had to because it was taken out of their salary – public servants. I have been there twice since then but am not aware whether that was still the case. The impression I have is that Greece got into debt because the Government had to borrow large amounts of money to compensate for the fact that most people weren’t contributing to the economy.
He also hinted at the likelihood that Australia must have a recession before long (I think on the premise that what goes up must eventually come down).
It is now almost two years since Ross’ talk at Royal Sydney Golf Club. Europe is still hobbling on, people are still avidly pursuing more and more material possessions. We haven’t had the recession yet.
At the end of the evening he signed my book “To My Old Friend”.
I still make it my habit to read every one of his articles in the Sydney Morning Herald.