Opening F-111 dump and burn at Riverfire 2006, an annual fireworks/RAAF spectacular at South Bank in Brisbane, Saturday September 2nd 2006


The most vulnerable countries in 2010 are shown in PIMCO’s chart “The Ring of Fire.” These red zone countries are ones with the potential for public debt to exceed 90% of GDP within a few years’ time. The yellow and green areas are considered to be the most conservative and potentially most solvent, with the potential for higher growth.

On February 11, 2010 12:14 PM, "Stephen Williamson" wrote:

Hi all

Really interesting graph in today's Australian, comparing numerous advanced economies in the western world, in terms of their public debt and budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP).

So, going left to right, it shows Gross Government Debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Production (for the year). We've jumped from 10% of GDP in 2007 to about 17% (or more) now, and though it's still going up, it's still the lowest of all the countries on that list. That, doubtless, is with major thanks to Costello and Howard.

Going top to bottom, it shows current government surplus / deficit for the year, once again as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. And, once again, Australia's 4% deficit, though it's in deficit, still looks fairly healthy, compared to, say, poor old Greece .

In fact, we look like we're in a better state than just about any other country on the list.

Click here to read the full article.

Click here for an updated "Sweeping Plains" article by KPMG partner, Bernard Salt in "The Australian" on Australia Day 2017.

As a friend replied: Great graph. We are a blessed nation.

Click Here for "The Great Southland" by Geoff Bullock © 1991 Word Music   Recorded at paulsplace   Click here for lyrics

Final amounts:
Govt figures for 2009-2010 showed total tax revenue of $290 billion, and total govt expenses of $338 billion, leaving an operating deficit of $48 billion. Our GDP that year was about a cool $1 trillion.
Govt Salaries 2009-2010 PM: $340,704 Deputy PM: $268,632 Treasurer: $245,700 Opposition Leader: $242,424

Below is a quick definition of GDP Gross Domestic Product. All three approaches are designed to bring a roughly equivalent total.

  1. Production Approach: Total annual gross (less cost of sales) for all business enterprises whether individual, corporate or government. It includes total exports, as they boost our trade balance, and an "imputed services value" in dwelling ownership.
    Click here for GDP by Australian industry between 2006 and 2011.
  2. Income Approach: Those totals are made up of wages, profits, interest, rents, also adding back provisions for depreciation.
  3. Expenditure Approach: These totals are employed in private consumption, investment in new assets, and government taxation.
    Note, with record low (and even negative) interest rates, many governments are boosting their GDP in overall security education and health by spending more than they receive in taxation, issuing government bonds to account for the shortfall, and in Japan and the West using quantitative easing to "monetize that debt" without increasing interest rates. Click here to see each government's tax and spend figures as percentages of overall GDP.

    Note too, the following figures are specifically excluded from GDP:

** With regard to gifts to churches and non-profit aid organizations, click here for the "mutuality" principle that is applied.

Click here to read Wikipedia's article on each country's GDP.

Click here for a Euro journal tracking the IMF's bailout of Greece on May 4th 2010.
Brief Quote "The Greek bailout means Euro-area nations are indeed their brothers' keepers, which in practice means every country's debt is on every other country's balance sheet."

Further thoughts on the Reserve Bank (in Australia), the Big Four (plus other Banks), and Australian Govt Debt

Click here for the Australian Govt's Reserve Bank Balance Sheet, comparing 2017 with 2018.

Click here for UTS financial lecture notes on how the Reserve Bank actually operates as a clearing house for all Australian banks every day.
From /nexusnotes-media/wp-content/uploads/edd/2016/07/16031534 /Pages-from-The-Financial-System-Notes.pdf

Click here for the timeline of our "Big Four" Australian banks. Includes a link to the latest APRA report showing current assets and liabilities of all Australian banks.

Click here for a report 2004 - 2018 of Australian Govt Gross Debt.

Click here for a graph 2006 - 2018 of Australian Govt Budget Surplus/Deficit.

Click here for a 45 year graph estimates 1971 - 2016 of Australian Govt Net Debt (Gross Debt less Financial Assets in Currency, Stocks and Bonds) as published by FlagPost - Australia's Commonwealth Parliamentary Library - in 2012.

Click here for a 58 year Aussie Home Interest Rates Timeline 2017 back to 1959.


Now, the email below sets out further details of early years of trading in Australia

Before Banks

From: Stephen Williamson
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:22 PM
Subject: How did everyone in Australia really survive before banks?

And secondly since 1788, virtually no depositor into a savings bank in Australia who then stayed in Australia has ever lost his or her money. How come?


  1. Click here for further background to Australia's settlement in recorded history (after 1788), specifically looking at Brisbane.
  2. Click here for a GDP refresher (Gross Domestic Product) with Australia being somewhat a standout, given our size and youth.
  3. Click here for the timelines of the "Big Four" — Westpac, NAB, ANZ and CBA and the names of many others that merged with them, or became insolvent.

    Because banks do not "create" wealth, they can only facilitate it, remove it, or become insolvent, click here for more on how banks become insolvent. In Australia, the Federal Government currently insures and thus guarantees personal deposits, up to $AU 250,000 per customer per institution.

  4. Click here for a list of 53 Australian Banks in 2020, 46 Australian owned and seven foreign owned.

Main Body

Hi all

Looking at the first question, first it was the grand old days of "promissory" / "small change" exchange notes used for bartering — all having a "face" value and a "buying" value. 100 businesses apparently got started up this way in Sydney and Hobart. Yes, the imagination boggles at what they promised soldiers, administrators and free settlers, both legally and illegally. And with a major shortage of silver coins, rum became the colony's "money", more by necessity than choice.

A brief background: With the departure of Captain Phillip at the end of his tenure as governor in 1792, the infant colony was briefly left in the care of lieutenant-governors who governed on behalf of the New South Wales Army Corps. Importantly, members of this military force had the ability to raise capital — labour and materials — by borrowing against their regimental pay, which was accumulating back home in England.

At the time, John Palmer was the official commissary in Sydney, empowered to draw bills of exchange on the British Treasury countersigned by the governor. He kept the public accounts and funds of the colony and was at once official supplier, contractor and banker to the settlement.

In 1793 the American trading ship, the 'Hope', arrived with 7,500 gallons of rum in her cargo. The other goods she carried were desperately needed but the Hope's captain insisted that he would sell nothing to the colonists unless they also bought all of his rum. The New South Wales Corps officers accordingly formed a syndicate with regimental paymaster John MacArthur fixing the necessary IOUs against the regiment's funds in England, bought this cargo, then distributed it at a sizeable profit. The vast pool of rum flooded into the market place at grossly inflated prices and at once became a means of exchange. For their efforts, the New South Wales Corps were immediately dubbed the 'Rum Corps', a name which stuck until their recall to England in 1810. The rich pickings they made from that first deal gave them the power to monopolise almost all trade, particularly that in rum (the name given to all spirits), for those 17 years.
In 1805 MacArthur, having resigned his commission, was appointed 5,000 acres at Camden Park by the Privy Council in London for his growing herds of Merino sheep, and run from Elizabeth Farm near Parramatta, his original acreage that he had named after his wife.

Click here for further background to John MacArthur, his trips to England, and an account of the coup against Governor Bligh in 1808 which led to MacArthur's son going to London accompanied by the first bale of exported wool.

Click here for a history of Australia Post, with Isaac Nichols appointed the first postmaster in 1809. Having one man in charge alleviated the mayhem that at times occurred when supply ships arrived, which was said to include unscrupulous people taking other people's mail and selling it back to them. Nichols worked from his house, also substantial buildings he had built in lower George St then known as High Street from where he had also established a shipyard. The cost to a recipient for the service he provided was one shilling i.e. about $65 today.

Incidentally, this principle of "having the recipient pay" is still practised by Australia Post with letters or parcels where there is no (or under) paid postage. If there is no return address listed on the back, their "stated" policy is to leave a card for the addressee advising of a postal article awaiting with more to pay on it. Then, if still unclaimed and if there is no return address inside, after a length of time — between three and 12 months depending on the value of any goods inside — any goods are auctioned off for charity.

In 1810 Governor Macquarie arrived with a new army regiment, followed, in November 1812, by a shipment of £10,000 value in Spanish dollars (i.e. $40,000 in Spanish coins) for the colony's use. Now, starting in 1817, came the first banks, working initially with these Spanish dollars. MacArthur returned that same year, with his exported wool soon making him the "richest man" in NSW. In January 1826 English currency became Australia's official currency, using silver and copper coins issued to the colony from the London mint. Within 10 years all other coins disappeared from circulation.

Note, after Federation in 1901, these British coins continued in Australia, being minted in London. In 1910 came the first Australian silver coins (threepences, sixpences, shillings and florins), then in 1911 Australian copper pennies which were also minted overseas.
Not until after WW1 started did Australia's first silver coin minting begin, at the Melbourne mint, in 1916. The Canberra Mint was opened in 1965, in preparation for Australia's decimal coinage.

Back to 1817. Australian banks were now divided into two distinct categories — savings banks and trading banks. Savings banks paid virtually no interest to their depositors, their lending activities were restricted to providing mortgages, and ended up guaranteed or owned by the colonial governments, using post offices as front counter agencies. Safer for borrowers and depositors. Trading banks on the other hand were private banks, essentially merchant banks, which provided no services to the general public, but were underwriters for farmers, miners, builders, etc. They printed private banknotes / future-dated promissory notes, based on their paid-up capital — starting with that Bank of NSW in 1817. But most of these trading institutions closed their doors — specifically through depressions in the 1840s and in the 1890s — as businesses that partnered with them failed, with inadequate insurance. And then there were the standover merchants, not to mention bushrangers. It was a tough land. Ouch.

But with savings banks, even when fraud occurred, losses were borne via colonial government regulation only by shareholders & overseas depositors / banknote holders. Rarely, if ever, by Australian depositors / banknote holders. While runs on savings banks certainly occurred, it meant a corresponding "domino" effect was short-lived. For example, in one of the first runs in 1843 on the Savings Bank of NSW (no relation to the Bank of NSW), the colonial government undertook to guarantee trustees' borrowings, if taken out to meet the bank's repayments, of up to £50 000. This action followed the crash, and loss to many wealthy ones, of an early merchant bank known as the Bank of Australia.
Click here for further background.

Of course, the gold rush in 1851 helped — some people . A Sydney mint opened in 1855, issuing gold coins, followed by the Melbourne mint in 1872, then Perth in 1899.

In 1893, the year of the great Brisbane flood and with many banks failing, the Queensland Treasury issued their own legal tender banknotes, via Queensland Government bonds, and prohibited private banks in the colony from issuing their own notes. These, instead, replaced the private banknotes of the eight trading banks whose doors had not closed.
Click here to read about the political situation, with missionaries from London requesting Queensland's protection to New Guinea in the immediate north.

But, back to banking, they were the first colonial government to do that on a major scale since, perhaps, the days of that regimental paymaster John MacArthur in 1793 with those IOUs. And, as intended, it helped restore confidence and brought people and investment — to Brisbane (and Queensland).

Queensland had another "first" 84 years later when it abolished death duties, which, yes, got the other state governments somewhat cranky as they do all have to compete for capital, and there was a sizeable inrush of capital into Queensland when that announcement came in January 1977.

But to double its income from sales taxes (it was still very young), the Qld government now introduced a wide-ranging Income Tax Act in 1902, click here for more details. To summarize, the levy was 10 shillings per annum on every adult male over the age of 21 earning less then £100, £1 per annum if earning between £100 and £150, then 5% on "produce of property" income and 2½% on "personal exertion" income for income over £150. Note, adult females weren't taxed unless their income exceeded £150. Click here for income taxing in the other states. For further background on Australia's tax history, click here.

Following Federation, in 1910 the Commonwealth Treasury said it would give the same guarantee, Australia-wide, and told the Queensland Treasury to stoppit . They purchased all unused private banknote paper, once again, provided that doors were still open, overprinted them with the words "Australian Note", securing them with gold, and Federal bonds.

In December 1911 the Commonwealth Bank, fully owned by the Federal Government, opened for general business.

In 1913, the Australian Treasury began printing brand new banknotes in Melbourne using the company Note Printing Australia.

In 1915, in the midst of World War 1, Australia followed the United Kingdom in prohibiting all gold exports except with the Treasurer's consent. This restriction was only temporarily removed in 1925.

In 1920 the Commonwealth Bank became Australia's Central Bank, and took over responsibility for note printing from the Commonwealth Treasury. It became the Clearing House between the Big Four Banks (1. Bank of NSW (today Westpac), 2. National Bank, 3. ANZ and 4. Itself) and when required, it was a Lender of Last Resort.

In 1929, the Commonwealth Bank Act provided for the requisitioning of all Australian gold in exchange for Australian notes. Formal action was never insisted upon under this legislation, but it marked the beginning of the end of the holding of gold by banks and the public in Australia. The Bank made gold available to meet domestic industrial demand, but exports were strictly controlled.

In June 1932, the Commonwealth Bank Act was amended to allow part of the note reserve to be held in UK pounds sterling, with £UK 10 million of gold shipped overseas from the gold reserve of the Australian Notes Fund.

The outbreak of World War II again called for special Commonwealth gold controls. In 1939 regulations under the Defence Act provided for the acquisition by the Commonwealth Bank of newly won and other gold. After the war these controls were continued in the Banking Act, until they were lifted in 1976.

In 1960, the Reserve Bank of Australia became Australia's Central Bank in the place of the Commonwealth Bank, with each member bank holding Exchange Settlement Accounts. Smaller banks and building societies and credit unions though still had no direct access and could only provide customers with agency cheques via an arrangement with a major bank.

In 1983, the Australian government "floated" the Australian dollar, meaning that it no longer fixed its value by reference to the English pound, the US dollar or any other foreign currency. In 1985 there was massive deregulation. That year sixteen foreign banks gained access to the system, followed by many more. In early 1997, the Reserve Bank increased its holding of overseas currencies, selling 167 tonnes of gold and exchanging it for $US, and later on € euro, and others.
It has enabled it to intervene, e.g. during the global financial crisis, to restore market liquidity and limit excessive price volatility.

The last bank failure in which Australian depositors lost money (and then only a minimal amount) was that of a trading bank, the Primary Producers Bank of Australia, back in 1931. Since then until today, banks have wound up but, banking sector problems have been resolved, without losses to depositors. As mentioned earlier, the Federal Government currently insures and thus guarantees deposits (up to $250,000) per customer, per institution, click here.

Yes, we are such a young country, hard to understand other countries' situations, and so hard for other countries to understand us. And isn't it amazing at how the Lord has undertaken, so often, during those past 224 years.

Click here for further background of how deposit slips and promissory notes evolved into privately backed banknotes and government backed "legal tender" banknotes, and how the bill of exchange turned into a modern cheque.

Click here for some photos of Australia's early pre-decimal banknotes and coins.

Blessings Steve

Daily Settlements between Banks

Click here for further information on inter-bank payments at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Final settlement of obligations between banks is by entries to their Exchange Settlement Accounts (ESAs) at the Reserve Bank. Large-value payments are settled one-by-one on a real-time gross settlement (RTGS) basis, while retail payments are settled on a net settlement basis. The Reserve Bank is of course responsible for Australian banknotes on issue, currently about $80 billion.

Click here for further background to the minting of Australian coins from the English Royal Mint.

Click here for the Australian Payments Network, responsible for the BSB system used when making direct debits and credits between Australian bank accounts. These transactions are cleared daily. Also responsible for cheque clearance, which by 2017 had dropped to one-fifth of the volume of cheques issued in 2007. In 2017, around 4 cheques were written per person in Australia, down from 20 cheques per person 10 years earlier. A significant share of cheque use is related to commercial payments, and financial institution ('bank') cheques for certain transactions such as property settlements.

Click here re EFTPOS in Australia, launched by Woolworths, Coles and major banks in 1988 for same day clearance. It employed Mastercard's Maestro debit card service that required not only that the magnetic stripe was able to be read with every transaction, but also that cleared funds were available and could be affirmed by each cardholder's issuing bank, helping shoppers stay in control of their budgeting.

Click here for Paypal, an EFTPOS member but based in the US. It was created by Peter Thiel and other investors in 1998, and was owned by eBay 2002 - 2014.

Click here for BPAY for other Australian merchants, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cardlink Services Limited. It is owned equally by the four major Australian banks i.e. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac. Launched in 1997, it is of course totally separate to EFTPOS and BSB.

Click here for an easy-to-follow image of the numerous steps involved in the processing of electronic card transactions. Click here for the difference between the "card issuer" bank and the "acquirer" bank (merchant bank).

Click here for Visa and Mastercard's background. Click here for the Bank Identification Numbers issued to them and other credit cards worldwide. Click here for Visa's US-based Card Acceptance Guidelines for Merchants. It shows the steps Visa follows, in validating a transaction worldwide.


Thoughts on Mammon

Below are two lists based on the IMF List 2014 - 2020 of debtor and creditor nations by Net international investment position

What it does is take the net position: Total external assets (owned in other countries) of every individual, company, and government institution, then subtracts the total external liabilities.

1. The 24 creditor nations listed in US$ are

  1. Japan on $3.067 trillion in 2015
  2. Germany on $1.797 trillion in 2018
  3. China on $1.747 trillion in 2016
  4. Taiwan on $1.181 trillion in 2017
  5. Hong Kong on $1.180 trillion in 2016
  6. Switzerland on $839 billion in 2014
  7. Norway on $733 billion in 2014
  8. Singapore on $635 billion in 2014
  9. Saudi Arabia on $588 billion in 2014
  10. United Kingdom on $576 billion in 2018
  11. Netherlands on $558 billion in 2018
  12. South Korea on $278 billion in 2016
  13. Russia on $227 billion in 2016
  14. Belgium on $220 billion in 2018
  15. Denmark on $164 billion in 2018
  16. Canada on $140 billion in 2014
  17. Venezuela on $134 billion in 2014
  18. Israel on $106 billion in 2017
  19. Sweden on $81 billion in 2018
  20. Argentina on $52 billion in 2016
  21. Austria on $19 billion in 2018
  22. Finland on $16 billion in 2018
  23. Luxembourg on $13 billion in 2018
  24. Malta on $5 billion in 2018

Totalling $ trillion

2. The 31 debtor nations listed in US$ are

  1. USA on $9.930 trillion in 2019
  2. Spain on $932 billion in 2018
  3. Brazil on $717 billion in 2014
  4. Australia on $703 billion in 2019
  5. Ireland on $519 billion in 2018
  6. Mexico on $482 billion in 2014
  7. India on $436 billion in 2019
  8. France on $370 billion in 2018
  9. Turkey on $356 billion in 2014
  10. Italy on $326 billion in 2018
  11. Indonesia on $321 billion in 2014
  12. Poland on $274 billion in 2018
  13. Greece on $253 billion in 2018
  14. Portugal on $204 billion in 2018
  15. New Zealand on $120 billion in 2014
  16. Romania on $83 billion in 2018
  17. Hungary on $70 billion in 2018
  18. Nigeria on $63 billion in 2014
  19. Chile on $53 billion in 2016
  20. Slovakia on $50 billion in 2018
  21. Czech Republic on $46 billion in 2018
  22. Kazakhstan on $42 billion in 2014
  23. Croatia on $37 billion in 2018
  24. Philippines on $30 billion in 2014
  25. Bulgaria on $27 billion in 2018
  26. Cyprus on $23 billion in 2018
  27. Lithuania on $17 billion in 2018
  28. Latvia on $15 billion in 2018
  29. Slovenia on $14 billion in 2018
  30. Estonia on $8 billion in 2018
  31. Malaysia on $5 billion in 2019

Totalling $ trillion

Note, in 2014 there was $664 billion nett owed by the Eurozone (in Euros) to outside countries.

Note too, the discrepancy of $2.2 trillion between dollars owed (mostly by the US) to creditor nations, and dollars invested by those nations, can be (at least partially) accounted for by the different year numbers involved. Secrets.

Regarding Australia's debtor nation status in fourth position, ever since we were first settled we've relied on other countries to invest in us to help us get going. And our public service has always been somewhat top heavy.
See the chart below for how much we are individually and corporately in debt to "managed funds" (in Australia as well as overseas).

Mammon and Babylon — Matthew 6:19-24   Luke 16:1-13   Revelation 17:1-5   Zechariah 5:1-11

Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS (foul stenches) OF THE EARTH.

Click here re the Four Horsemen, Simon the Pharisee, Judas, and Paul's attitude to taking up a collection.

Click here re the History of Money and click here re the History of Inflation.

On May 28, 2014 6:49 PM, "Stephen Williamson" wrote:

Subject: Chatting about mammon - the great "mamma" this morning :-)

Ok Australia's Federal debt in bonds is now about ** $270 billion
** $551 billion in 2017

Total State and Territory debt in bonds about $230 billion
Private company debt in bonds about $720 billion
So, bonds investment: $1.22 trillion

Total private housing debt about $870 billion
Total investment housing debt about $410 billion
So, housing: $1.28 trillion

Private credit card debt and personal borrowings $140 billion
Private company borrowings from banks, etc about $730 billion
So, other borrowings: .87 trillion

Total Australian Debt $3.37 trillion, roughly, in May 2013 click here

So who is in the black?

Various Australian Managed Funds (excluding "cross-investments") — superannuation (about 75% of the total),
public unit trusts&life insurance (about 25% of the total)
ABS Link: $2.3 trillion
$2.3 trillion
Gross: Overseas investors (in Australian currency)
AFR Link   DFAT Link: $3.2 trillion
less: Australian investors (in overseas currency)
DFAT Link: $2.2 trillion
Nett from Overseas Investment
ABS Link: $1.0 trillion
$1.0 trillion
Leaving a balance, roughly, for banks and other investors in Australia to supply:$70 billion
Total:$3.37 trillion

Yep, we've relied hugely on overseas investment since 1788 — starting with those famous IOU's written in 1793 for 7,500 bottles of overseas rum, authorized by the British Regiment's Paymaster — but with so much now available in our own superannuation and insurance and trust funds, the percentage of nett overseas investment has actually dropped.

So, while Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey are doubtless wise in endeavouring to, very gradually, reduce the $300 billion owing in federal bonds, those other figures do help to bring it all into a better perspective, with all the shouting that's going on.

Thank you Lord, yes, to rest in you, to look to you, our loving heavenly Father, for each coming day's needs.

"give us day by day, the bread for each coming day" as several translations put it.

Blessings all :-) Steve

And at the end of the day, as the scripture says, each one of us has to bear his own load, whether as individuals, company directors or politicians. Ahh the Lord knows.

** End of article