August 1, 2012 / 4:50 AM / in 5 years

Australian finance minister's economic hero? Springsteen, not Keynes

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Anyone looking for early signs of distress in an economy should forget John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman and listen instead to Bruce Springsteen.

That’s the message from Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan, who on Wednesday cited the American rocker, known as The Boss, as one of his economic heroes.

Swan, named by banking magazine Euromoney as its finance minister of the year in 2011, said Springsteen foretold the story of economic and social change in the United States, particularly around his home state of New Jersey.

“You can hear Springsteen singing about the shifting foundations of the U.S. economy which the economists took much longer to detect, and which of course everyone is talking about now,” Swan said in a lecture to ruling Labor Party members.

Swan said he was a university student in 1975 when he first became a fan of the New Jersey rock star following the release of the song Born to Run.

In an Internet video clip to promote his lecture, Swan’s watches his daughter Errin, who is a member of an Australian rock band, sing Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.

“I guess Springsteen’s Born to Run when it first came out in 1975 was one of those albums that really influenced me for a long time,” Swan said, adding he still listens to the song when he needs inspiration.

Swan quoted several Springsteen songs, including The River, based on the collapse of the New Jersey construction industry, and My Hometown, where he sang about a textile mill closing along with stores in a small town.

Australia was one of the few economies to avoid recession during the global financial crisis and is now in its 21st year of continued growth, fuelled by a mining boom driven largely by demand from China.

Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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