In this week's essential reading guide Kohler identifies the key federal budget problem, Gottliebsen lists Labor's economic sins and Bartholomeusz looks at Telstra's rising share price.

The handout blowout that’s costing the budget
Alan Kohler
The key problem with Labor’s budget is poor means testing. Until it’s fixed Canberra's budget pain will continue.

The comprehensive list of Labor’s lost chances
Robert Gottliebsen
Labor’s slug to business morale is built on a litany of errors beyond the party’s seven main mistakes. It’s the biggest single factor holding back Australian confidence. 

Two in the hand for Telstra’s broadband
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Telstra’s share price is now reacting to an understanding the Coalition broadband plan will not only protect the telco’s current position, but may add value to it.

The budget deficit is just a stone in the shoe
Stephen Koukoulas
The view that high government spending is to blame for the upcoming budget deficit is wrong. In fact, real government spending cuts in 2012-13 are the largest on record.

Everything hinges on a blind-faith election
Rob Burgess
Both sides of politics are asking voters for historic levels of indiscriminate trust in them to manage the impending transition of Australia’s economy.

Woodside’s browsing points to a floating solution
Stephen Bartholomeusz
After withdrawing its plans to develop Browse onshore at James Price Point, Woodside has concluded that floating LNG technology would be the quickest route to production.

Super easy money is here to stay
Stephen Koukoulas
A run of bleak data has pushed the Fed to consider ramping up its monthly bond purchasing, held last night at $US85 billion, as it settles in for the long haul.

Gillard’s backflip on disability will come at a cost
Michelle Grattan
Labor's NDIS levy is not in itself a bad idea, but the way it's been introduced will play right into Tony Abbott's hands.

Greeting the tax that must not be named
Jessica Irvine
GST hikes are the Lord Voldemort of tax reform – seen by many as too awful to mention. But they’re the smartest option for any government that wants to get serious about the budget.

Can Australia and China speak the same language?
John Lee
Regular, open leadership discussions have worked well for Australia-US relations, but with China there are unique difficulties.

Is Germany edging towards the exit?
Oliver Marc Hartwich
Between leaked Bundesbank documents challenging the ECB and similar comments from a German finance chief, it looks like Berlin is seriously considering its position on a euro break-up.

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