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Macro Afternoon

by Chris Becker Yet another low volume day in Asia as Chinese markets remain closed while other bourses tried to find their way after the UK and US markets were also closed overnight. Currency markets are acting on Super Mario’s dovish comments last night, selling the Euro down, but other safe havens like Yen and

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Rent-seeking death

Via the ABC: A new website comparing the cost of funerals in an effort to bring more transparency to the industry has been peppered with legal threats. But it has since received cease-and-desist letters from lawyers representing funeral homes, demanding their listings be taken down. The website’s founder, Colin Wong, said he was inspired to

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Myer crashes to post-float lows as retail reels

Discretionary retail is increasingly a mess. Staples are holding so far: The ASX200 Retailer’s Index captures the spirit: The imminent launch of Amazon is certainly playing its part, via FT LEX: Quake, shopkeepers of the world. Amazon will continue gorging on your business. Even as it conquers new worlds of computing and hardware, Jeff Bezos’s

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Will reversing Fed QE trigger volatility?

Via Deutsche: Summary The common wisdom is that Fed tightening combined with tapering could lead to greater volatility. The reality is far more complex, it is more like a driver shifting gear to adjust his deceleration as he coasts to the red light. If he doesn’t he might just have to hit the brakes hard.

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Apartment approvals rebounded in April

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released dwelling approvals data for the month of April. At the national level, the number of dwelling approvals rose by a seasonally adjusted 4.4% to 17,414. The overall increase was broad-based, with both unit & apartment approvals (+9.6%) and detached house approvals (+0.5%) both

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Coalition backs Adani racism-pork

By Leith van Onselen After yesterday accusing GetUp! of “threatening Australian democracy” over the group’s justified opposition to the Adani Carmichael coal project, today the Coalition has labelled them “xenophobic” as well. From The Australian: Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the Greens and “their friends” in the advocacy GetUp! were engaging in xenophobia and dog

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Property locusts swarm Budget’s foreign buyer measures

By Leith van Onselen Property locusts are swarming Canberra to lobby against the modest changes affecting foreign buyers announced in the Federal Budget. From The Australian: The property industry will throw new force into its campaign against budget changes that ­“demonise” foreign investors, as company chiefs arrive in Canberra today to warn of a hit

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Auckland’s housing shortage continues to worsen

By Leith van Onselen The New Zealand National Government’s single-minded focus on solving Auckland’s housing crisis by boosting supply continues to take a hammering. Today, Statistics New Zealand released figures showing that construction momentum has slowed across Auckland, with just 726 dwelling consents issued in April and 10,226 issued over the year: As noted by

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Late payments begin to climb

Via D&B: Late Payments increased during the early stages of 2017, rising to their highest level since Q3 2014 and consolidating a trend of late payment times gradually moving higher. On average, 59.8 percent of Australian businesses pay their bills on time, while 9.5% pay in excess of 60 days beyond invoice terms. Late payment

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A new area of services rorting emerges

By Leith van Onselen Hot on the heels of widespread rorting by private Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers, the Federal Government has uncovered alarming levels of fraud within the family daycare sector. Fraud to the value of $60 million within the sector has already been detected, and it is expected that this amount will

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Gottiboff signals more Chinese housing panic

By Leith van Onselen After being lectured for years by various ‘experts’ that Chinese buyers were not driving up Melbourne and Sydney property values, and might even be lowering prices by boosting supply, the narrative is finally changing. A case in point is the latest rant by Robert Gottliebsen (aka ‘Gotti’), who worries that Chinese

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Where is the Aussie bubble tipping point?

Parliament tried to find it yesterday: Treasury secretary John Fraser declined to indicate what level of household debt would represent a grave threat to the nation’s economy, saying his department’s priority was to monitor the problem. During more than three hours of Senate estimates testimony Mr Fraser repeatedly warned that the use of debt was

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Aussie fundie liquidates citing imminent bubble bust “calamity”

Has anyone noticed how MB is no longer the local “doomsayer”? Via AFR: Australian asset manager Altair Asset Management has made the extraordinary decision to liquidate its Australian shares funds and return “hundreds of millions” of dollars back to its clients, citing an impending property market “calamity” and the “overvalued and dangerous time in this

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Sloan slams immigration addiction, housing affordability “sham”

By Leith van Onselen The Australian’s Judith Sloan has penned a great piece today highlighting the Turnbull Government’s Budget housing affordability sham and arguing that if the Coalition truly cared about the issue, then it would have slashed immigration: Last week, Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, wrote a feeble op-ed article outlining what

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S&P is setting the scene to downgrade Australia

Yesterday S&P released a new report comparing Australia and Canada, explaining why it see the former as a much weaker AAA sovereign than the latter. Strong Institutions And Governance Effectiveness We consider Australia and Canada’s institutional arrangements and governance effectiveness to be key strengths. Both countries are federal parliamentary democracies supported by strong institutions and the

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Banks’ superannuation fee gouge rolls on

By Leith van Onselen There are arguably few better businesses to be in than Australian superannuation. Thanks to compulsory contributions, set at 9.5% of employee wages currently, along with a largely fixed cost structure, the superannuation industry continues to rake it in, earning fat fees on everyone’s retirement nest egg. Nowhere is this cozy arrangement

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Australia’s failing demand-driven uni system

By Leith van Onselen Fairfax’s Ross Gittins penned an excellent article yesterday on the inefficiencies of Australia’s demand-driven university system, which is churning out way too many graduates, costing the Budget a fortune, and leading to bloated bureaucracies: In an ideal world we’d be investing more in our universities, but our world is far from

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Love your work, Tiger

As a kid I loved watching the artistry of failure mastered by Greg Norman. The human frailty he brought to golf was so much more compelling than the game itself. Those early morning Masters disasters punctuated my youth like commandments from some hursuit and stinking mountain-top hermit. But he’s going to have to move over