EDITOR'S PICKS

In this week's essential reading guide Kohler says Swan's budget savings won't show til he's gone; Gottliebsen explains what the budget did to the dollar; Koukoulas tips a surplus after seven years; and Bartholomeusz breaks down Virgin's failed earnings calculations.

BUDGET 2013: Not tough, not clean but not bad
Alan Kohler
Look past the forward “guestimates” and Swan’s last budget is not a tough one. Any big savings will appear long after he’s gone.

The dollar's fall reveals a budget mess
Robert Gottliebsen
The Australian budget gave currency traders a clearer view on the medium term prospects for the Australian economy. It seems they don't like what they see.

BUDGET 2013: Seven-year deficit itch
Stephen Koukoulas
A return to budget surplus after seven years would be in line with previous periods of deficit – no more and no less.

KGB TV: The Spectators on the budget
Alan Kohler Robert Gottliebsen and Stephen Bartholomeusz
The Spectators give their unique views on what is likely to be Wayne Swan's last budget.

Mirrors and smoke at Abbott’s budget party
Alan Kohler
Add election year antics to obfuscating budget traditions and you get the peculiar triple sideways shuffle Tony Abbott gave last night.

Mackenzie's BHP plan hits the right notes
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Andrew Mackenzie has told BHP shareholders he is upbeat about the outlook for commodities, and his plan to reduce capex and streamline BHP's portfolio should see it through even a worst case scenario.

We've wasted three years on economic phantoms
Rob Burgess
Throughout this parliamentary term, Australia’s real position has been forgotten as our representatives rave about economic non-issues. And the settings are in place for a post-election repeat.

The housing rally to have, when you're not having a rally
Steve Keen
The current ‘booming market’ involves almost the lowest level of housing sales volume since 2002. It’s almost certainly a reason why last week’s ABS data showed prices petering out.

Abbott's decision to plan is plan enough
Jessica Irvine
Tony Abbott’s budget reply showed the Opposition leader changing tack at the right time, from negative strategy to a more ‘adult’, consultative attitude.

Hit for six: Why Europe is still stumbling
Stephen Koukoulas
GDP in the eurozone has fallen for six straight quarters as the fiscal austerity agenda keeps it stuck in what looks increasingly like a perpetual recession.

China's pragmatic Middle Eastern surprise
John Lee
China shocked many when it reached out to get involved in Middle Eastern politics, but its strategic interests in the region are too big for it to keep a low profile any longer.

Europe's slasher stalks Slovenia
Oliver Marc Hartwich
Its banks are full of bad loans, its financial system is a mess. And Europe’s leaders are out in force to declare support for Slovenia – a surefire sign it will, within weeks, be the next bailout victim.

Alliance winces at a Virgin earnings overshoot
Stephen Bartholomeusz
Some airline players have been left with red faces and Virgin Australia is facing questions of competency after the carrier's quiet admission it had miscalculated earnings.