The Boomer Legacy


The doctrine of market infallibility

We lived in a magical time.

Where growth was endless and shiny tech unicorns strode the valley. Where everyone placed bets on whether the swans were grey or black. Where everyone rose or fell solely according to their own efforts.

Where currency was democratised and easing limitlessly quantised. Where Riches were always usually occasionally seldom never acquired by inheritance, nepotism, hypergamy, corruption, rent-seeking or asset-bubbles.

Where societal choices could only be framed in economic terms. Where only monetarism, globalised free trade, deregulation, shareholder value, small government, nimble competition, resilient optimism, flourishing foreign investment, robust micro-economic & productivity-enhancing reforms and — obviously — completely unfettered financial markets would never always determine the fair value of everything, and deliver significant benefits for oligarchs CEOs family-trusts investors stakeholders all.

Sample #2130
Forget your past    (Apr 2014)

Topic Images

There are currently 129 photographs in this section.

Tourism added value

Tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country: one, by bringing numerous economic value & benefits; and, second, helping in build country's brand value, image & identity (Market Width Blog, 2018)

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Christmas Day tourists at the Sydney Opera House [Dec-2001 296kb]

An unexpected afternoon at the Sydney Opera House. The “2001 Black Christmas Fires” had flared again in the Blue Mountains, so the western sky turned dark red. Most people were staring at or photographing the smoke-obscured sun, but this particular couple were much more interested in each other

Segregation now, tomorrow & forever

Only the most privileged could afford the right to live in their own city

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Distillery Drive cutting at Jacksons Landing, in Pyrmont [Jan-2013 321kb]

Go for growth mate

We'll get an army of casuals to collect our night-soil, just like a hundred years ago

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Outdoor toilet and “dunny lane”, Lithgow NSW [Jun-2019 588kb]

Not a house of cards then

People's jobs depend on confidence and trust in the financial and banking system. And I can assure [everyone] that, despite the very disturbing and, indeed, shocking revelations we have seen in the Royal Commission, particularly of late, that these issues, while as abhorrent as they are, are completely separate from any question about the stability and strength of [our] banking and financial system. (Morrison, 2018)

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Pedestrian footbridge at Barangaroo [Apr-2016 203kb]

Keeping interest rates low *

No matter what happened, cheap debt could not be blamed
(* until 2022)

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Used car-yard at Parramatta Road Granville [Apr-2017 206kb]

Global interest rates were kept artificially low for decades to encourage economic growth. Finding metaphors for the corresponding deterioration in lending standards + mountain of consumer-debt turned out to be surprisingly easy

Incentives to succeed

It was self-evident that the Rich were job creators and property booms were an efficient way to redistribute wealth

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The rear of a Korean restaurant, in a Pitt Street Lane near Town Hall [Oct-2012 324kb]

Rent not Enterprise

[…] that we here highly resolve that these mortgagors shall not have borrowed in vain — that this realm, under Banks, shall have a new birth of fiefdom — and that government of the landlords, by the landlords, for the landlords, shall not perish from the earth

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Vacant commercial land at Lawson in the Blue Mountains [Jan-2012 56kb]

Driven by unceasing mobility

Remember the physical-distancing rule and only travel when essential

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Waiting for the Cronulla Ferry at Bundeena Wharf [Aug-2020 305kb]

During the lockdowns we were subjected to continual messaging about social isolation and avoiding “unnecessary” travel. This image was taken at the end of a 28km Royal Coast Track walk, and the commuters' weariness mirrored the photographer's fatigue

The shadow workforce

The solution to mass unemployment was as simple as redefining what was meant by “unemployed”

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Red flags at the Circular Quay promenade [Jul-1992 475kb]

Taken from the Cahill Expressway, looking down on the paving at Circular Quay. What appears to be a huge knife was actually the shadow of a banner flapping in the wind

Strength through joy

Everyone denounced the enemies of growth

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Suburban Toorak, Melbourne [Apr-2019 245kb]

Waiting for the great leap forward

From blue-collar schooner heroes to the Kings of Kowloon, the third-world was just around the corner

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Central Park development, at Broadway in Sydney [Jul-2012 160kb]


Jeffrey Keith Skilling (Enron Corp); Walter Forbes (Cendant Corp); Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers); Bernard Lawrence Madoff (Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC); Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin); Ruja Ignatova (OneCoin); Markus Braun (Wirecard); Sam Bankman-Fried (FTX); Kwon Do-Hyung (Terraform Labs); Changpeng Zhao (Binance); Sergei Panteleevich Mavrodi (MMM Global); Elizabeth Anne Holmes (Theranos Inc.)

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Wedding Cake Rock, RNP [Jul-2019 211kb]

Wedding Cake Rock was a social-media hotspot at the northern end of the Royal National Park. Simple fences were erected to stop people from posing on the rock's edge, not only to prevent them from falling to their deaths (there had been a few), but also to preserve the geological structure as long as possible. The irony was that selfie-lovers were still climbing over and through the obstructions to get their snaps. So a few months later a higher, reinforced, cliff-edge to cliff-edge impenetrable barrier was finally installed

Frictionless intermediation

Because the Sharing Economy sounded so much nicer than Government Regulation Evading Extractive Capitalism (NYTimes, 2017)

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Subterranean ingress and egress aperture cover at Watsons Bay [Dec-2014 902kb]

Exuberant expectations

Great success and performance created its own reality (Pfeffer, 2015)

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Church Street car dealership, Parramatta [Apr-2017 278kb]

In the circle of FIRE

There were such vast sums of money to be made from rents & fees & short-term leases & collateralised debt & asset bubbles & asset stripping & short-selling & bear-raids & related-party transactions & spoofing & layering & democratising currency & Hummingbots & whale-trades & mergers & demergers & gambling wagering & grey-rhinos & black-swans & shiny tech unicorns & beanie babies & overcooked profit projections & 300-year visions & peer-to-peer lending & off-balance-sheet funding & liar loans & narco-state money-laundering & flipping cities to rideshare & family trusts & anonymous offshore trusts & Shanghai aged-care schemes & concealing petrostate billions & cloud mining tokens & golden moons & cash-for-visas & child-pornography & coal mining leases & terrorism financing & insurance fraud & lying to corporate regulators & rewriting independent reports & unenforced enforceable-undertakings & dismantling Bretton Woods & quashing Glass-Steagall & hiring ex-ministers as senior regional advisers & influence peddling & door-opening & impunity spells & moral-hazard exceptions & guaranteed bailouts & suspending customer withdrawals & using courts to overrule insurance claims & friendly Wagyu-beef-washed-down-with-finest-shiraz judgements & swaps & options & swaptions & binary options & unregulated crypto-loans & coaxing punters to “buy the dips” & “growth phase” IPOs & CDOs & CMOs & CDFs & LDIs & FICCs & REITs & FAANGs & SPACs & BATs & ELPs & PGUCs & P2Es & NFTs & BAYCs & BNPL & NFSC & FOMO & FONGO & concocting ever more arcane financial instruments to conjure “assets” out of nothing to ensure money kept raining in torrents from the sky, that there was little point in doing anything else

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The Elizabeth street facade of the Commonwealth Bank Building [Oct-2020 433kb]

This weight of calorific delights

Just a spoon full of HFCS helped the processed food go down (Hyman, 2014)

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Candle wax at a Kent Street wine-bar, near Town Hall [Jan-2014 284kb]

Back to the Futuregate

It was a game-changing fairytale ending and one for the history books. Needless to say, we were trapped between a rock and a hard place, and looking down the barrel of a perfect storm. For everyone was tweeting about delivering good stories in world filled with user-generated content

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Media-workers at the Sydney Opera House [Jul-2014 328kb]


One could either use General Relativity equations to derive the Schwarzschild metric in n-dimensions, or else go shopping

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Supermarket freezer aisle, Katoomba [Dec-2003 98kb]

Again a custom Leica candid rig had to be used, with the added complication of having a supermarket employee discreetly following me around to ensure I wasn't taking photographs

Fierce, Wonderful & Closed

What little trade there was ended up bleeding out slowly

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Cafe shop-front during a level-four lockdown, Katoomba NSW. It closed permanently eighteen months later during another extended lockdown [Apr-2020 318kb]

Multi-million dollar slums

Disintegrating verandahs + Cracks big enough to fit both hands + Aspergillus from foundations to eaves = The bones of the property seem pretty decent and it's got a fair bit of character

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Ex seminary on Forbes Street, Newtown [May-2022 595kb]

The engine of growth

Our generation reaffirmed the notion that markets could remain irrational for longer than investors could stay solvent

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The window-display for Central Autohaus in Alexandria [Jun-2015 180kb]

Plan for robust & inclusive growth

Keep doubling the population every 35 years → boosted aggregate demand → vigorous GDP growth → buoyant budget outcomes → more apartment pre-sales → snowballing property values → windfall capital gains → wealthier property-investors → bustling streets → more toll-roads & shopping malls → more bathhouses, nail-salons & shisha lounges → less dirty industry → more construction & business services → more mortgages → more prosperous banks → more stamp-duties → more negative gearing on property investments → more wealth-effects → more tourism & international students → more university & private college enrolments → more waiters, maids, au-pairs, fruit-pickers, concierges, nail-artists, migration agents & community-liaison officers → more subclass-482 & spousal visas → increasing remittances to family & sponsors overseas → potentially higher rates of workforce participation → projected supply-side potential → likely productivity benefits → forecast greater aggregate income → more money in everyone's hip pocket

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Front-yard garden gnomes in Summer Hill, Sydney [Oct-2016 569kb]


Every last particle of our faith was poured into equities & real-estate

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Birrell Street front yard, Bondi Junction [Oct-2018 448kb]

Play the Tradie's Game

Contract for a knock-down-rebuild and then wade through years of excuses as to why it took so long to construct a simple suburban house

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Debris removal at Warrimoo. The original house was demolished in April 2020 and the replacement was still unfinished two years later… [Apr-2020 523kb]


One cheap long-haul flight produced more CO2 per passenger than driving an SUV for four months

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Runway approach lights, Sydney International Airport [May-2019 74kb]

Filled with delight

Non-inclusive apartment developments on the site of an old gasworks

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Breakfast Point apartments (formerly Mortlake Gasworks), Sydney [Jul-2014 229kb]

What this little black rock could do

We have to make sure this economy works. We have to export dollars. We have to realise we have a moral responsibility to other people in other nations to keep their lights on (Joyce, 2017)

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The Steelworks and Coal Loader at Port Kembla harbour [Sep-2014 66kb]

Port Kembla, along with Newcastle, featured some of the largest coal handling facilities in the world. Unfortunately it was difficult to shoot interesting views of generally ugly industrial locations. Sunsets helped, as did telephoto lenses and silhouettes

Defenestrate your livelihood

We mortgaged the future and bet it all on there not being one

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Waverton Coal Loader wharf [Feb-2022 672kb]

Although epic ruin porn is a photography cliché, sometimes you cannot ignore it. Here a barbed wire fence had to be scaled to obtain the overhead shot. The 19mm ELMARIT (11329) lens appears to suffer from pincushion distortion, but the foreground planks show that everything is as straight as it should be

Creating value

From warehouses to office blocks to strategically empty short-term leases

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Motorways and the former Caltex building, Sydney [Sep-2016 122kb]

Forever in Golconda

This time it really was different

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Charging bull statue, NYC [Oct-2017 252kb]

North to Avoska

Before mobile phones, perhaps-bags accompanied us everywhere

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Totes diptych at Hornsby and Wynyard, Sydney [Apr-2005 248kb]

Behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, people always carried shopping bags in case goods become available. Here in the west there were rarely any shortages, but people carried similar bags nevertheless

The retail ziggurat

The domestic-consumption model was the ideological apex of our economy

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Shopping trolleys huddle beneath the mobile-phone towers on top of Marketplace Leichhardt [Sep-2010 374kb]

Forget your past

Architectural awards counted for little when it came to prime development sites

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Darling Harbour Conference Centre demolition, Sydney [Apr-2014 238kb]

This image is a classic example of the importance of always having a camera with you. Being a bit of an architecture nerd, it was ironic to discover that a collection of Darling Harbour buildings which were lauded in the 1980s for their innovative design, should thirty years later become yet more fodder for redevelopment

Clip service

Legacy media could always revert to nostalgia for a past brimming with promise

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Testaroossa Sammy-Santino Mens Hairstylist, Double Bay [Jan-2019 364kb]

From backpacks to chuggers

Street fundraising earned a poor reputation due to worker exploitation, dishonest begging techniques, and the realisation that most of money raised was used for “administration”

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Australian Red Cross charity collectors work the lunchtime crowd at Martin Place, Sydney [Jan-2002 249kb]

Borderline conundrum

Self-service was self-defeating when there was no service to serve

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Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, unused self-service check-in and baggage drop facilities at Sydney Airport's T1 International Terminal, Friday afternoon 12:30 pm [Oct-2020 194kb]

An intricate system of inefficiency

Our elites were more focused on growing the economic pie than on how it was divided

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Darling Harbour Marina [Jan-2017 139kb]

Cargo Culte

We lounged about in ill-fitting uniforms, languidly pressing buttons on small screens… waiting for the day He would return, bearing great gifts

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Palm tree outside the abandoned St Mary & St Mina's Coptic Orthodox Church at Sydenham, near Sydney airport [Sep-2012 355kb]

A lot of patience was required here due to the timing and positioning of the aeroplane(s), who would often approach from slightly different angles and thus spoil the composition. Or you would get a small turboprop when what you really wanted was a thundering 747. Either way, when shooting digital it wasn't an issue, but Hasselblad A12 film backs could only give you 12 shots to get it right…

No map and a broken compass

Cheap goods and MTV proved to be more effective than détente and ICBMs

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Stall on Tverskaya St, Moscow, beneath a memorial plaque to the soviet artist Pyotr Vasilyev [Dec-1991 244kb]

Moscow December 1991, a couple of days before the end of the Soviet Union. The command-economy had collapsed, while early attempts at market capitalism stalled because consumers didn't have enough money to buy anything more valuable than soft-drinks or bric-a-brac.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions

A command economy emerged in everything but name

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Taped off seating, Sydney Centrepoint [Apr-2020 203kb]

Roses of Picardy

The marriage industry flourished despite the cynicism, malaise and lockdowns

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Private wedding ceremony at St Marys Cathedral [Mar-2019 371kb]

In Goldman, Sachs We Trust

The financial sector was the bedrock of our entire social structure and facilitated massive cultural progression. Whereas the 1960s were wasted on aerospace and NASA, the 2010s had asset growth via cheap debt and the ISDA

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The financial district in eastern Sydney, with the rocket-shaped 1 O'Connell Street in the middle background [Jul-2011 128kb]

Unearthing the past

The house was gone and the yard excavated so deep that every trace of your childhood was obliterated

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What was once 12 Kensington Street, Kogarah [Apr-2011 424kb]

Consumer kaizen

A culture had to be created in which our customers were driven to self-actualise

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High Street bus-stop, Penrith [Feb-2017 556kb]

Practising our future

There was always plenty of money for whatever appealed to our sense of adventure

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Abandoned front yard yacht, Kirribilli [Jan-2020 600kb]

Right on track for Soylent Green

Shots in the arm for the tourism industry: 2019 — months of raging bushfires; 2020-1 — pandemic lockdowns; 2020-3 — torrential rain & flooding from three La Niñas in a row…

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SOH Tour group during the 2019 summer bushfires [Jan-2020 265kb]

The boom in retailing

Sell everything, take on more debt and cancel Christmas

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McEvoy Street pop-up retailer, Alexandria [Mar-2018 240kb]

Flags of convenience

Our vision was to create a better everyday life, by getting our customers to do all the work

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The united nations of IKEA, at Tempe [Sep-2012 147kb]

Bubble watch

Rising property prices were carefully manipulated to create more economic winners than losers

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Spectators on the steps of the former CBC Bank, Martin Place [Apr-2006 278kb]

One of the most significant impacts of the Boomer generation was the proliferation of asset bubbles. For this shot, taken during the 2006 Anzac Day march, everyone on the bank's steps looked up suddenly to watch planes fly over. What made getting the shot difficult was not just the timing, but also using a film-based Hasselblad, mounted onto a monopod and triggered by a mechanical cable release

The carnival is over

The market faithfully rewarded those who took a long-term view

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Luna Park Hair Raiser ride, in the rain [Jan-2019 126kb]

Night photography is difficult, especially in the rain. Here it was persistent enough to penetrate my 35mm LUX (11144) lens, necessitating a round-the-world trip to have it disassembled, cleaned and recalibrated

Stroking the hidden hand

Everyone was free to choose their own circumstances

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Tents for the homeless at Wentworth Park, Sydney [Jul-2017 604kb]

Living in a film-set

Months spent wandering through a terrain filled with shuttered restaurants and disoriented diners

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Deserted food court, Centrepoint Sydney [Apr-2020 175kb]

Financial kinesiology

Despite all the underlying momentum and near-zero interest rates (until 2022), it appeared we didn't survive the crash

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Outside the Sydney branch of the Deutsche Bank in Hunter Street.

A security guard tried to prevent this photograph from being taken “due to copyright reasons”. A detailed and patient lecture on photography-rights disabused him [Jan-2012 135kb]

Attainder by process

The most efficient way to neutralise dissent was by levelling the playing-field

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Philip Lodge Motel demolition at Haberfield [Jun-2016 391kb]

Everywhere the glint of gold

Vibrant cities crammed full of soaring casinos, buzzing with energy and excitement

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Microflite City Helipad, Yarra River Melbourne [Apr-2019 297kb]

Creative Destruction

The most efficient way to boost productivity was by reducing the number of workers

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The abandoned White Bay Power Station at Rozelle [Jan-2013 206kb]

Scaffolding to pierce the sky

To better embrace necessary change, our cities were framed within a matrix of sidewalk sheds

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One Circular Quay construction site, Sydney [Jan-2018 213kb]

In a fugue world

Feel the love through the acquisition of merchandise

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St Collins Lane shopping arcade, Melbourne [Apr-2019 182kb]

The user-pays model

We rejected the so-called “generational bargain” because we couldn't see any reason to pay for things we would never live to use

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Government hoarding at Westpac Plaza, Barangaroo [Aug-2016 492kb]

Consumer karoshi

A culture had to be created in which our customers were driven to self-sacrifice

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Market Street escalators at Centrepoint, Sydney [Jan-2016 260kb]

A side-benefit of being treated for amblyopia as a child was that you learned to really use your eyes. Here the escalators bore an ironic resemblance to a Japanese Samurai Kabuto

Potemkin Prosperity

The central irony of the financial crisis was that while it was caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing & lending and too much spending — it could only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing & lending, and more spending (Summers, 2011)

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Fields of green shoots at the Westpac plaza in Sydney [Jan-2014 520kb]

This image is actually a composite, with two shots joined via a false horizon. Although always fascinated by the glibness of the expression green shoots, it took a lot of scouting to find a corporate environment which actually had them

The emporium struck back

Department stores battled heroically against an invisible enemy

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Storm-troopers at the David Jones lift-well [Jan-2019 71kb]

Forging a new deal

The transition from manufacturing to a service-based economy was completely seamless

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Derelict Ford truck at The Grounds of Alexandria [Apr-2018 652kb]

How do you depict the systematic dismantling of industries, with their associated well-paid employment for working-class people, without being blatantly didactic?

Luxury was a human right

Stand on principle on the way up and you would miss the stampede; stand on principle on the way down and you would be run over

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Even the pigeons lived in style at Hogben Street in Kogarah [Apr-2011 98kb]

The best that money can buy

Of particular interest to ICAC has been the planning decisions along Canterbury Road and Charles Street, which saw some Liberal and Labor councillors voting together to approve developments which council's planning staff had previously rejected due to non compliance (SMH, 2017)

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Apartment construction at Charles Str, Canterbury [Oct-2015 329kb]

The golden hoard

Our cities filled with built-to-flip empty apartments for yield-desperate offshore investors

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The construction boom at Wentworth Point [Sep-2016 286kb]

Wealth always trickled down

Our system endured for so long because enough of the electorate believed they still had some chance to get rich (Citigroup, 2005)

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Begging for loose change near Sydney Town Hall [Sep-2016 421kb]

The road to zero

A globalist market where all tastes were equal and we voted only with our dollars

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William Street beverage hoarding (since rebuilt) at Kings Cross [Oct-2012 326kb]

A pattern of abundance

Full automation was the next stage in our collaborative journey

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NTP Forklifts (since relocated), at Woodville Road Granville [Apr-2017 237kb]

Extremely well serviced

Only the wealthiest suburbs had regular bus, rail and ferry services

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The F5 Neutral Bay ferry leaves Kirribilli wharf [Nov-2020 192kb]

Zero sum game

The link between free trade and rising global prosperity was self-evident: designed in the USA → marketed from the UK → manufactured by Uyghur forced-labour → shipped via Panama → channelled through a Singaporean marketing-hub → transfer-priced through Luxembourg → laundered in a Melbourne casino → banked in the Cayman Islands → stashed away in a Geneva Freeport vault → splurged on trophy homes, superyachts, racing cars, helicopters, private school fees, casinos, parties, mistresses, divorce lawyers, bribes and political favours… in New York, Beijing, Bucharest, Riyadh, Lagos, Monaco, Sydney and Londongrad

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Shipping container facility at Tempe, near Sydney Airport [Sep-2012 286kb]

Curate your educational passport

New research suggests that the uncapping of university places accomplished exactly what it set out to achieve

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University of Sydney main quadrangle [Oct-2017 507kb]

Rust belt potential

Our suburbs were rife with agility, propagation and replacement

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Lett Lane, Lithgow [Jun-2019 483kb]

Quality by design

Exclusively appointed apartments riddled with gross structural defects

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Nevada Apartments remediation at Darling Point [Dec-2018 278kb]

Ghosts of the CBD

Governments had to resort to upbeat slogans, pleading and bribes to entice voters to return to the city

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Commuters at the new Central station concourse [Jun-2022 281kb]

Candid people photography is a much riskier business today than it was twenty years ago. Luckily people are so accustomed to mobile phones being used today that when they see someone walking around with an actual camera, they assume it's only being used for mundane things like flowers or grandchildren

Financial ouroboros

Australian banks are [indeed] very exposed to the housing market. Around 60 per cent of their lending is for housing. And housing is also common collateral for loans to small and medium businesses. A decline in housing prices impacts the value of that collateral but of itself does not necessarily lead to losses. (RBA, 2021)

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Ex-bank branch waiting to be re-purposed, Newtown [Jan-2022 187kb]

Positive growth model

A modern 24-hour economy filled with baristas, bloggers, interns, cash-in-hand hospitality workers and itinerant artisans

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Lower Baldwin Street, Dunedin NZ [Nov-2017 294kb]

Dog-boxes in the sky

Mate, phone-in punters bought them off the plan like it was Lunar New Year

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Spacious and exclusively appointed apartments at Broadway, near Central [Jul-2016 226kb]

Have a go to get a go

We voted conservative and lived modestly within our means. We studied and worked hard, scrimped and saved, spent wisely and made prudent investments. So we deserved to keep more of our own money

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Hopetoun Road Toorak, Melbourne [Apr-2019 185kb]

Practical streetwise living

Stretch out in hygge comfort and swaddle beneath an extra blanket

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Pitt Street Mall food-court entrance, Sydney [Jan-2019 439kb]

Life in the Bunkercene

The lockdowns caused us to cocoon just that little bit more

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Martin Place hoardings, Sydney [Mar-2019 277kb]

Thrusting for yield

The ubiquity of synchronised growth led social experiments imposed from above

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Tower cranes at Australian Technology Park [Mar-2018 217kb]

Click and collect

Socially responsible trading during yet another level-four lockdown

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George Street boutique, Sydney - which closed within a year of this photo being taken [Jul-2021 109kb]

The shadow state

Our top-down globalist system will endure forever

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North from the Empire State Building [Oct-2017 474kb]

Exit strategy

How could we have been anything other than healthy, prosperous, secure and optimistic?

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Fig Street tunnel, Ultimo [Jul-2017 403kb]

Espresso Kultur

The al fresco revolution gave tantalising significance to our busy lives

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Outdoor cafe seating at Little Eveleigh street, Redfern [Sep-2020 394kb]

Easily within reach

With interest rates at five-thousand-year lows (until 2022), affordable mortgages were flying out the door

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Art Gallery of NSW window looking east, Sydney [Mar-2019 251kb]

All snakes, no ladders

We stuck to the plan, even though we kept changing it

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Subterranean utilities footpath markings outside the QVB [Apr-2015 773kb]

Stake your claim

A large number of neighbourhood micro-businesses flourished when manufacturing was taken offshore, resulting in vigorous employment growth among non-employees

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Small business badge window display, Wentworth Street Port Kembla [Sep-2014 598kb]

Look back in covfefe

Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive (Trump, 1987)

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Trump impersonator on Broadway, NYC [Oct-2017 335kb]

The 2016 election of the 45th US President unleashed a wave of anti-populist invective. Progressive activists, academics and news-workers incessantly railed against “Trumpism” for years and years, as if all the op-eds and impeachment attempts and special counsels and house select committees and pussyhats and “Stormy Daniels” imminent-indictments could reverse what happened

Down from the mountain

… and into the markdowns

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Leura antique store [Oct-2018 198kb]

Within Skinner's Box

Anyhow…™ we Thought Different™, Opened Happiness™ and Flew the Friendly Skies™ because We Were Worth It™

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Wall advertising, Pitt Street Sydney [Mar-2021 250kb]

Back in the CCCP

The centralised command economy disintegrated almost immediately

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Street vendors on the day the Belavezha Accords were signed, Tverskaya St Moscow [Dec-1991 248kb]

Moscow at the end of the Soviet Union. A lot of patience was required to capture this image. Scores of people were milling around the vendors, checking out the items being offered. So you had to wait a long time (45 minutes, in the freezing cold) for the crowd to part just enough to clearly reveal the sellers. It turned out most of them had lost their jobs in the post-communist dislocation, and were trying to hawk their valuables to supplement their incomes

A million jobs Mr Speaker

Decades of monetarism and offshoring provided enormous economic benefits for all to see

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Shepherd Street factory yard, at Marrickville [Sep-2012 337kb]

Keep doubling your money every 7–10 years

Dr Wilson said that Sydney was likely to have a $2 million median house price by 2030 and a $3 million median by 2038 (Daily Telegraph, 2018)

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Hopscotch squares at the Woodcroft housing estate, in Blacktown [Dec-2012 491kb]

Both feet on the ladder

Everyone became millionaires by inheriting properties bought for pennies decades ago, and then flipping them at government-guaranteed prices (ABC News, 2022)

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Renovations in suburban Stanmore [Sep-2012 119kb]

Practise social distancing

So we stayed home, most of the time

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Townhall Arcade foot court [Jul-2021 165kb]

The customer was king

Everything you could ever possibly desire, at your fingertips

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Supermarket checkout, Nepean Village Penrith [Apr-2003 119kb]

Taking candid photographs in supermarkets was not easy. You were constantly monitored by staff and management, who were worried you were going to steal commercial information about their pricing and product displays. Consequently, a special candid rig had to be developed which, although it had my rangefinder camera clearly visible, looked like it was merely transporting the camera instead of being used for photographs

Braving the abyss

Despite challenging market conditions, and a negative return for your superannuation this year, we continue to deliver strong long-term returns. […] Significant market falls can be worrying, but staying invested remains vitally important. […] When we invest your super, our approach is focussed on the long term, to help maximise your retirement savings. But it also manages short-term risks in times like these. I want to reassure you, our members, that we remain committed to investing to help you achieve your best retirement outcomes. Bulk email from the CEO of Aware Super, 2022-07-08

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Waterrun cliff-side, RNP [Aug-2020 668kb]

Waterrun is a dramatic rock-shelf in the Royal National Park. Due to unstable geology, the narrow river valley is surrounded by 50m cliffs, the tops of which allow an overhead view. So far so easy, but you have to climb out to the very edge of these things to get the best shots. Have done it twice, there won't be a third time…

A licence to kill

There was nothing on your dinner table that wasn't put there by highly skilled transport professionals

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The “roo bar” of a prime-mover at Kings Langley, near Blacktown [Aug-2015 414kb]

Too big to fail

It took a long time to establish a balanced equilibrium between collateralised debt and rising property values

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Barangaroo office construction, Millers Point [Aug-2016 364kb]

20-20 vision

Restricted trading hours [✓] Patron number limits [✓] Temperature checks [✓] Sign-in attendance records [✓] Perspex table-shields [✓] 1.5m social distancing [ ]

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The Celsius Cafe at Kirribilli Wharf adapts to business conditions under COVID-19 [Nov-2020 325kb]

Reflating the economy

Old debt could be easily retired by taking on new debt

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Tumbalong Park attractions, Darling Harbour [Jul-2014 220kb]

One country, two systems

There was endless argument about Income Inequality, but carefully quarantined silence about Wealth Redistribution

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Woodcroft housing estate versus Harris Street Ultimo [Jan-2013 177kb]

Back-to-back meetings

Office work turned into being little more than sitting around and talking

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Queen Street office building at night, Melbourne [Apr-2019 147kb]

The one sure bet

One of the interesting things about the years 1982—2023 was that markets always boomed, no matter what. By the early 2020's many commentators and economists agreed that equities were irrationally overpriced, yet the bourses still kept on rising…

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Financial reporter at the Sydney ASX [Oct-2018 152kb]

The original intention was to get photos of the predicted market collapse for that day — presumably the same reason the financial reporter was there. Unsurprisingly, the crash didn't happen and the market rallied, again

Surrogate activities

The illusion of robust economic activity was sustained by creating an archipelago of empty construction sites

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Green Square hoardings at Zetland [Nov-2018 298kb]

Ford to city: Drop Dead

The acolytes of Moses & Le Corbusier feasted upon on the fruits of Single Class Socialism

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The southern ramp to the Anzac Bridge expressway, at Pyrmont in Sydney [Jan-2013 150kb]

The cranes were flying

At one stage there were more tower cranes along the Australian eastern seaboard than in all the major cities in the USA (ABC News, 2016)

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Tower crane jibs at Lewisham [Sep-2015 176kb]

Unyielding positivity

The ship collided with the iceberg → While acknowledging there may be evidence of unsettling optics and regrettable client experiences, this is a complex and contentious matter and, going forward, even our harshest critics admit there are glimmers of hope and reassuring signs of optimism; The ship then rapidly took on water and listed dangerously → As part of our vision to create a non-zero-sum paradigm, it may sometimes be necessary to relinquish ground to guarantee future team success; Some passengers ran about screaming → Team members were pro-actively incentivised to facilitate collaborative eminence; Passengers then had to fight their way topside to escape → Partners scaled peak-less mountains to cultivate growth mindsets; There weren't anywhere near enough lifeboats → The final number was an on-balance judgement and we are comfortable with where the settings lay; Only wealthy passengers could secure a place in the half-empty lifeboats → Personal on-boarding of inexperienced users meant there may have been misaligned, or perhaps even flawed, metrics to evaluate success; The ship sank, no-one came the rescue, hundreds drowned in the freezing water → Clearly there may have been a few organisational shortcomings, but we sincerely believe we found the right balance between upholding our high standards and the needs of stakeholders. Furthermore, there are always statistical outliers, where unforeseen technical and systems failures may cause processes to fall a little short of expectations

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Boutique shop-front which eventually became a mens clothing store, Leura [Aug-2021 123kb]

Canyons of gold

The decision to pour billions of dollars into commercial property turned out to be spectacular

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Castlereagh Street buildings, Sydney [Jan-2019 128kb]

Twilight's last gleaming

We slid down the Phillips Curve until we reached the Minsky Moment

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Construction hoarding at Barangaroo, Sydney [Sep-2016 163kb]

Jobs & Growth

Social cohesion was a luxury we could no longer afford

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Wall markings behind Parramatta Road, Strathfield [Jul-2014 564kb]

Franchisee nation

The nature of employment changed. We didn't know what the new jobs would be, but we knew that they would surely come

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Food cart on 37th Street, NYC [Oct-2017 328kb]

Agile entrepreneurs

Surveillance cameras [✓]  Motion-activated floodlights [✓]  Canvas-covered windows [✓]  3m high fencing [✓]  Steel chained front gates [✓]  Threatening no-trespass signs [✓]  Resourceful SMEs servicing a niche-market [✓]

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Domestic security on Neville Street in Marrickville [Sep-2012 422kb]

Dutch disease done right

Not to worry. If the economy works the way the textbook says, the gain to miners should flow through to the economy, causing higher wages and tax receipts (Gittins, 2017)

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Remnants of the 2000's resources boom at Lithgow [Aug-2012 304kb]

Delivery apps were so convenient

HungryPanda, Foodora, Uber Eats, DoorDash, EASI, Menulog, Deliveroo, Hey You, GrubHub, goPuff, EatNow, Yelp… We imported an underclass of temporary-visa holding independent contractors to zip around on bikes to deliver burrito bowls, bubble-tea and authentic pad thai

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Online food delivery rider at Haymarket, near Chinatown [Apr-2020 135kb]

In 2020 home delivery riders were suddenly everywhere. Most were third-world “students” on temporary visas, who would tear through plazas and along inner-city footpaths at breakneck speeds. During the lockdowns their numbers multiplied to the point where, at certain locations, there were more of them zipping around than there were pedestrians trying not to get hit (ABC News, 2020)

Tyburn revisited

Decades of infrastructure deals and back-room favours continued with impunity

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Sydney Metro Project construction site, Martin Place [Jul-2019 286kb]

Tulips in the rough

Tax laws were rewritten to ensure the price of land-banked property could increase by more each day than most people could earn in a week

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Irelands Road in Blacktown, western Sydney [Dec-2012 532kb]

The Moneyland luxe vibe

Prestige brands rode out the pandemic rather well

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Luxury goods store entrance, George Street Sydney [Nov-2020 252kb]

Knowledge-based economy

If you could no longer make a profit by making things, then you could profitably spend your time making things up

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The interior of the Queen Victoria Building, near Sydney Town Hall [Jan-2012 246kb]

Epistemic insouciance

Full speed ahead for the fly-in fly-out money-launderers high-rollers in the sky (ABC News, 2020)

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Crown casino construction, Barangaroo [Jan-2020 212kb]

Taken during the erection of Packer's Pecker. It's difficult to exaggerate the thrall in which gambling wagering was held by politicians, most of the general public and the advertising-revenue-hungry media

Good sports with your money

Thursday night drinks with the GPS boys after the Dragon Boat Race; City lights twinkle far below the 32nd floor; Fetch whole legs of ham from the firm's kitchen to hang in the partners' dining room, then stash the original artworks in the ladies toilet a couple of floors down; Piggyback steeplechase around the associates' floor, making hurdles of upended desks; Grab an old jockey cap from a senior-partner's office and use our neck-ties as whips; And then whooping and hollering and running and falling all over the place and pissing ourselves like it was the best night of our lives…

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The ghosts of corporate lawyering at Martin Place [Oct-2014 876kb]

Business service industries

The only way to counter economic headwinds was by being more nimble than the market

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Finance workers at Australia Square [Dec-2004 280kb]

Taming animal spirits

There is something more systematic about the way people behave irrationally, especially during periods of economic stress (Greenspan, 2013)

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Lunchtime in a George Street amusement arcade, Sydney, demolished a few years later [Sep-2003 326kb]

Having worked in high-pressure corporate environments in the 1990s, it proved difficult to find suitable metaphors outside. But then sometimes you get lucky

Structural Ugliness

Ironically regress the trend curve to make the feeds pop

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Orthopaedic sandals at the QVB Arcade, Sydney [Nov-2020 351kb]

City of forgotten men

There's class warfare all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war and we're winning (Buffet, 2006)

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Unhoused on George Street, Sydney [Aug-2014 463kb]

From blue to fluoro collar

Vast sums were borrowed to create a cornucopia of employment opportunities

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Re-tiling the Sydney Opera House forecourt [Jul-2014 159kb]

Domain awareness gap

Runaway house prices were regarded as being not only acceptable, but necessary

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Toorak Road for-sale sign, Melbourne [Apr-2019 575kb]