Roy Morgan unemployment tumbles on lower participation

ScreenHunter_10 Mar. 29 12.46 By Leith van Onselen Roy Morgan Research (RMR) last night released its unemployment estimate for the month of August, which registered a massive fall in the unemployment rate to 8.7% from 10.2% in July (see next chart). The fall in the unemployment rate was caused primarily by a large contraction in the labour force participation rate, although there was also a small lift in the number of jobs. According to the release: 12,205,000 Australians are in the workforce; (the lowest since January 2013): (down 162,000 since last month July; down 172,000 since August last year); 11,141,000...
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AFG: First home buyers in heavy retreat

ScreenHunter_15 Apr. 24 14.56 By Leith van Onselen Australian Finance Group (AFG) has released its housing finance data for the month of August, which registered a small monthly decline in mortgage applications, although both the number and value of applications were up on the same time last year and a record for the month of August. The number of mortgage applications fell by 2% in August but were up 4% over the year to 9,087, whereas the value of applications fell by 4% over the month but were up by 10% over the year to $3,959 million (see next chart). Investors continue to drive new mortgage demand, with their...
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Dwelling approvals lifted in July

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 03 22.48 By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released dwelling approvals data for the month of July. At the national level, the number of dwelling approvals rose by a seasonally adjusted 2.5% to 16,318. The overall increase was broad-based, with the volatile unit and apartment segment rising by 5.9% and the more stable house approvals segment increasing by 1.4%. The result beat analysts’ expectations, who had expected a 1.7% rise in approvals over the month. In the year to July 2014, dwelling approvals rose by a seasonally-adjusted 9.4%, with house approvals up by...
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Why Australia’s governments are addicted to consultants

ScreenHunter_3957 Sep. 02 10.36 By Leith van Onselen The Australian's Adam Creighton has written an article today on the huge surge in the use of consultants, which is second only to the United Kingdom: AUSTRALIA has the second highest usage of consultants in the world, relative to GDP... Australian businesses and governments spent a total of more than $US4.2 billion ($4.5bn) on consultants last year — up 2 per cent from 2012 and ahead of an ­expected 5 per cent rise this year. This put Australia second only to Britain in the use of consultants, after allowing for gross domestic product, according to a survey to be...
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ANZ-RM consumer confidence falls

ScreenHunter_20 Apr. 10 19.28 By Leith van Onselen The ANZ-Roy Morgan Research (RMR) consumer confidence index fell marginally in the week ended 31 August, decreasing by 0.9 points (0.8%) to 112.6, taking it just below its long-run average reading of 113.2 (see next chart). This week's fall was driven by a 5.5% fall in household perceptions about their ‘financial situation compared to a year ago’ The below chart plots the most recent Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment index against the ANZ-RM Consumer Confidence...
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Stock on market rebounded in August

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 20 20.55 By Leith van Onselen SQM Research has released its stock-on-market figures for the month of August, which revealed a 3.8% seasonal rebound in the number of for sale listings over the month, although total listings are still 2.1% below August 2013 (see below table). According to SQM: Of particular growing importance [in these results], is the narrowing difference in the yearly decrease of stock on market, where an ongoing trend has now become evident. Indeed we are not seeing the large drop in stock levels year on year, as we were at approximately this time last year, when the market...
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McGrath contradicts self on Chinese property boom

imgres By Leith van Onselen John McGrath from McGrath Real Estate has hit back at claims made yesterday by buyers’ agent, David Morrell, that "real estate agents and property lawyers are willingly helping foreign investors to illegally buy prestige homes in Melbourne and Sydney" and that this was "causing a domino effect" in the local market and helping to price-out locals. From The AFR: Prominent Sydney estate agent John McGrath says he hasn’t seen Asian buyers rorting foreign investment rules to buy blue-chip real estate. “I am not aware of any such practices,” said the founder and chief...
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Hockey’s super guarantee pause is good policy

ScreenHunter_3902 Aug. 22 15.25 By Leith van Onselen The Abbott Government has set to delay the planned increase in the superannuation guarantee - the amount that employers must contribute into employee's super accounts - by three years in a bid to ease pressures on the Budget. From Peter Martin: Superannuation contributions at present are set to climb from 9.5 per cent of salary to 12 per cent over the next five years. The Coalition wants to delay the next scheduled 0.5 percentage point increase for three years to ease pressure on the budget. Rushed through the House of Representatives on Monday as part of the mining tax...
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Commodity price index posts small rebound

ScreenHunter_07 Nov. 26 16.13 By Leith van Onselen Yesterday evening, the RBA released its commodity price index for August, which registered a 1.6% rise in Aussie dollar terms – the first monthly increase in 2014 – and also a 1.6% rise in SDR terms – the first increase since December 2013: Preliminary estimates for August indicate that the index rose by 1.6 per cent (on a monthly average basis) in SDR terms, after declining by 1.3 per cent in July (revised). The largest contributor to the increase in August was the price of iron ore. The base metals subindex rose in the month while the rural commodities subindex...
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Links 2 September 2014

ScreenHunter_01 Apr. 02 06.19 Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Has the market overpriced stocks and long bonds? - Econbrowser How the relentless bid from share buybacks has driven this rally - The Reformed Broker How sports betting is similar to the stock market - CNN Money Private debt funds are the new banks - Financial Times Alarm at Basel impact on shorts and swaps - Financial Times Hedge Funds Cut Gold Bull Bets to Lowest Since June - Bloomberg UN predicts climate hell in 2050 - The Guardian A global economy divided into the good, bad and ugly - The Guardian North America: Why many Americans...
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Australia’s world-class health system

ScreenHunter_64 Sep. 01 14.23 Cross-posted from The Conversation: There is an old joke about one fish asking another about the state of the water and the other answering “what’s water?” When you’re immersed in something and that is your daily experience, you are not able to step outside it – all you see is what you know. But with all the talk about Australia’s health system being unsustainable, it’s useful to step back and look at the Australian health system in an international context. So, how do we perform against our peers? The short answer is pretty well. Comparing inputs and outcomes Much of the...
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Australia’s growing youth unemployment scourge

ScreenHunter_3946 Sep. 01 12.43 By Leith van Onselen The Brotherhood of St Laurence has today released a new report on the growing scourge of youth unemployment and underemployment in Australia, which is at the worst level since records began in 1978, with more than 580,000 Australians aged 15 to 24 either under-employed or unemployed: Today, young people are more likely to be underemployed – to have some work but want more hours – than at any time in the last 36 years... Presently, there are more than 310,000 people aged 15 to 24 who are underemployed in Australia. When you add the numbers who are without any work,...
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Mining exploration falls, petroleum lifts

ScreenHunter_03 Jul. 23 09.31 By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released its Mineral & Petroleum Exploration data for the June quarter, which revealed a sharp fall in mineral exploration expenditure, but a large lift in petroleum exploration expenditure. Nationally, expenditure on minerals exploration fell by a seasonally-adjusted $35.8 million (-7.5%) over the June quarter. The fall was driven by Queensland, where exploration expenditure fell by $30.2 million (-24.5%): The various components, presented below in non-seasonally adjusted raw terms, actually rose over the quarter by...
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Today’s cigarette tax hike will punish the poor

ScreenHunter_3942 Sep. 01 11.09 By Leith van Onselen Today, the price of a packet of cigarettes is scheduled to rise by between $1.12 and $2.81 due to the decisions of the former Rudd Government to raise the tobacco excise by 12.5%. Excise also will be increased under the normal twice-yearly indexation introduced 30 years ago by the Hawke government, although now it will rise in line with average weekly ordinary-time earnings, rather than the Consumer Price Index, as was previously the case. Last year, in response to the Rudd Government's decision to raise tobacco excise, Sam Oldfield, who is an economics student at...
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More reports of foreign buyers evading FIRB

ScreenHunter_06 May. 06 09.27 By Leith van Onselen Another day, another report of foreign investors in Australian property slipping through the Foreign Investment Review Board's (FIRB) net, this time from The AFR: Real estate agents and property lawyers are willingly helping foreign investors to illegally buy prestige homes in Melbourne and Sydney, says buyers’ agent David Morrell... Mr Morrell likened the powers of the FIRB to “a slap in the face with a wet lettuce”. He said estate agents, whom the FIRB relied upon to report foreign buyers flouting the rules, were looking the other way in return for higher...
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Sloan’s negative gearing defence sours

images By Leith van Onselen After her dreadful defence of negative gearing in July (thoroughly debunked here), The Australian's Judith Sloan has returned with another abusive post aimed squarely at us "lefty" doomsayers that dare question the merits of Australia's famed tax expenditures on investment property. Sloan's article is chock full of straw man arguments, misrepresentation and insults in lieu of reason. Let's take a look at her latest installment: Without the faintest clue of the rationale or application of the relevant tax rules, these advocates for “social justice” will still quote...
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Auction clearances rise

ScreenHunter_19 Mar. 13 13.12 By Leith van Onselen The national auction clearance rate jumped sharply over the weekend on the back of big rises in Sydney and Melbourne. According to RP Data, the national weighted average preliminary auction clearance rate was 72.2% over the weekend, which was up 5.5% from the 66.7% preliminary clearance rate reported last weekend. Sydney’s clearance rate rose by 4.9% to 81.1%, whereas Melbourne’s rose to 71.0% (last weekend 64.1%). Brisbane, which typically only has a small number of auctions, experienced a decline in its clearance rate to 47.0% from 52.1% the weekend before. Overall...
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RP Data weekend property market update

ScreenHunter_18 Mar. 18 17.58 Click to view RP Data’s latest weekly housing market update, which provides a useful snapshot of the housing market as at 31 August 2014. This week’s report includes: Latest weekly dwelling value results; Auction results & clearance rates; Latest median house & unit prices; Average time on market & vendor discounts; Mortgage market activity; and New listings...
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RP Data house prices jump in August

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 20 20.55 By Leith van Onselen RP Data’s daily house price index for 31 August was released yesterday, which has enabled me to calculate monthly price movements for the five major capital city markets. As shown below, home values at the 5-city rose by 1.18% in August, driven by a big 1.84% gain in Sydney and a 2.26% jump in Adelaide, although gains were recorded across all major markets: It was the third consecutive lift in values after May’s large seasonal fall: Values at the 5-city level have now increased by 6.21% since the beginning of the year, with all major capitals, except...
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Links 1 September 2014

ScreenHunter_01 Apr. 02 06.19 Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Maybe this whole indexing thing has gone too far - Aaron Task Why the stock market feels riskier after a fall - A Wealth of Common Sense Making money by agreeing to disagree - Vitaily Katenelson There are a lot of definitions of risk, many of which are wrong - Aurora Signals Successful retirement planning involves making some tough choices - ThinkAdvisor CONTAGION—How market selloffs happen - Fortune Investors Still Hate the ’Hated Bull Market’ - Wall Street Journal North America: A big chunk of the upper middle class doesn’t save...
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Investors hog as owner occupier’s slow

ScreenHunter_05 Apr. 15 22.08 By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) today released its private sector credit aggregates data for the month of July: A chart showing the long-run breakdown in the components is provided below: Personal credit growth (0.2% MoM; 0.5% QoQ; 0.8% YoY) and business credit growth (0.3% MoM; 1.5% QoQ; 3.4% YoY) continue to grow at a modest pace in annual terms, whereas housing credit growth (0.5% MoM; 1.6% QoQ; 6.5% YoY) is stronger, but remains at fairly subdued levels relative to its long-run average growth rate; although it is still growing more than twice as quickly...
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Coalition retreats from draconian dole requirements

ScreenHunter_10 Mar. 29 12.46 By Leith van Onselen The Abbott Government has backed away from its draconian plan to require unemployed jobseekers to apply for 40 jobs a month in order to receive the dole, admitting the plan would have created a "meaningless" burden on employers that would have had to sift through piles of sham job applications. From The AFR: “It is clear that, overwhelmingly, people say that if you're unemployed, your full-time job should be job seeking,” he said. “On the other side, there is the view - and I think it's a legitimate view – that getting people to apply for 40 jobs in a meaningless...
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BIS Shrapnel bull turns bear

imgres By Leith van Onselen BIS Shrapnel has predicted tough times ahead for the Australian economy, forecasting that domestic consumption and investment expenditure will experience its weakest four-year run since the early-1990s recession, averaging just 2% per annum to 2017-18. From Ferret: Richard Robinson, senior economist at BIS Shrapnel warns that employment growth will be soft with only 668,000 jobs created over the next four years. Robinson comments that it will be a slow and difficult transition from an economy driven by the huge resources construction boom, which largely underwrote...
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Weekly RP Data Australian house price update

ScreenHunter_07 Mar. 20 20.55 By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 28 August 2014, the RP Data-Rismark 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, rose by 0.28% (see next chart). Growth in this week's home values was fairly broad-based, with all capitals except Brisbane experiencing rises (see next chart). So far this month, home values have risen by 1.32%, with gains across the board but strongest growth in Sydney and Adelaide (see next chart): Values are up by 6.36% so far in 2014, with all major capitals except for Perth experiencing growth, and particularly...
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Mining gets its coolies

ScreenHunter_59 Aug. 29 07.46 By Leith van Onselen Despite overall unemployment at 12-year highs (and rising), a budding youth unemployment crisis, and its own Department of Employment revealing that skills shortages are at an "historic low", with employers able "to recruit skilled workers without marked difficulty" and "generally large fields of applicants vying for skilled jobs and employers filled a high proportion of their vacancies", the Coalition has announced that it will materially loosen rules to enable employers in specific regions to import more labour from overseas. From The Australian: ...the federal government...
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