Toasting MB’s superb first year

It’s the end of the year and in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne I should not let the moment pass with recapping MB’s superb first year.

It’s difficult to prioritise the successes but one of the most prominent has been to bring accountability to the Australian housing narrative. From the early months of the year, it was no longer possible for the housing spruikers to spout “arguments” without rigorous examination (and most often debunkage). I think it fair to say that by doing so with reason and sound economic principles, MB empowered the broader media to question its reliance on the same questionable sources and arguments. Of course, it has been MB as well that has been proven most right in its forecasts for a slow melt in house prices all year.

The principle reason we were able to render this successful housing forecast was that the MB understanding of the Australian economy was well ahead of just about everyone. As bank and official economists persistently forecast a blowoff mining boom, MB held the line that Dutch disease and consumer deleveraging would condemn the economy to slow growth.

The most entertaining manifestation of this assessment was the struggle fought against an aggressive group of young turk economists we dubbed the “bullhawks” (half housing bull and half interest rate hawk). Through the middle of the year, Chris Joye, Paul Bloxham and “Mad” Adam Carr generated an extraordinary inflation panic that proved to be bogus, as we foresaw. This flerd (flock+herd) of soaring bullhawks were at the centre of a unanimous mainstream push for higher interest rates. MB stood against such arguments on the basis that weakening housing markets would soon put paid to the “boom” and inflationary pressures. We were right and our forecasts for interest rates proved spot on all year.

These same insights into the economy also enabled us to correctly forecast that the Australian Budget was a work of fiction, a fact played out recently in the $20 billion black hole announced in the MYEFO. Not to mention our consistent (and seemingly exclusive) understanding that the Federal government is now the lynch pin of the private banking system via implicit guarantees. A truth that was ultimately reflected in rating agency reassessments, as well as fiscal cuts.

Another area of discussion about the Australian economy that MB has pioneered is its broken macroeconomic settings. The nation’s dependence upon a dated model of private debt expansion, as well as its chosen management strategies for the mining boom, have locked us into a paradigm that is, over time, leading to the selling off of assets to fund the current account deficit and the hollowing out of the economy’s productive capacity. I can’t say that this discourse has received broader traction but we will persist so that when the commodities boom ends there is a record of thought to hold to account policy makers and the vested interests they often serve.

But it wasn’t just in the economy and housing that MB excelled this year, it was also in reading broader capital markets. The MB line on the equity market, that we are trapped in a bear market with intense volatility, has also proven right on the money. The same is true of our forex forecasts, in which we called both the rise and ultimate top for the Australian dollar, as well as its ongoing fall. We also had terrific success in forecasting turning points in major commodities markets, including iron ore and gold.

But perhaps the greatest surprise to me has been MB’s international success. We set out to provide Australians with a world class new media business and economics portal, yet as it happened, we also developed a strong following of international peers and readers. Throughout the year, we were linked into the global blogosphere and have been regularly referenced at the world’s most prestigious blogs, including those attached to world leading newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. The title of this very post is, in fact, drawn from a description of MB by the FT mid year, “the superb MacroBusiness”. Delusional Economics appearance in Martin Wolf’s column just this past week was an amazing and well deserved highlight. I know of no other Australian writer or economist to have achieved such a level of endorsement.

Then there was our coverage of the major world economies. Our analysis of Europe has been ground breaking and has led the world press. We were one of the first to forecast a European recession and still reckon a US recession is also in the offing, hinging on European outcomes. We also offered comprehensive coverage of China’s great struggle to reign in credit growth as well as its toying with an inflationary bust, though the outcome there remains uncertain. Whilst the broader media blathered about decoupling and exceptionalism, we forecast that Australia would be drawn into all of it, which is now broadly accepted.

But the ultimate success of MB this year is, surely, you. MB’s traffic has grown non-stop all year (and is still growing). We have reached a point of critical mass that enables us to sell advertising, most especially since you, the audience, are very high calibre – young, smart and wealthy.

More to the point, the MB community is a triumph of contemporary media, where the collective mind expressed through the comment forum is infinitely superior to the stale monologue delivered from the know-it-all grey beard of yesteryear’s newspapers.

My toast is to you, MB readers.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)

Comments

  1. Au contraire. Thanks go to you guys for getting together and advancing the MB concept to what it is. You fellows are surely a beacon in the mainstream media darkness. I am very grateful for all your efforts this year.

  2. Congratulations to all of you at MB.

    The quality of your reporting and willingness to engage with your audience has made this one of my most visited sites, over the last year.

  3. Congratulations to all of you at MB.

    I used to read some of your individual blogs but in the case of this site, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

  4. Thx and congrats, guys. I even try to read the articles that don’t immediately grab my attenton; because there’ll be something in there of interest or that makes me think.

  5. Thank you to all the bloggers here on this fantastic site! It’s my first site visited on booting up my pc.

    Please keep them coming. I hope you and all your families have a great Xmas and a very successful NY and 2012.

  6. Phil the engineer

    Congrats on a great year. I don’t have an economics background, but came here from unconventional economics’s blog and have learnt lots. Cheers to a successful 2012.. May macrobusiness grow like a new Chinese city in Mongolia. πŸ™‚

  7. Hugh PavletichMEMBER

    CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU MB TEAM

    You people are making an enormous and hugely important contribution, in lifting the standard substantially in the public conversation of important public policy issues.

    As you and readers will be aware, I have been “banging on” about housing supplu issues since initiating with co author Wendell Cox, the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, since it was first released early 2005.

    The 8th Annual edition is due for release 23 January.

    As you will note on Interest Co New Zealand http://www.interest.co.nz today, there are three important article on the housing issue, since the release of the Draft Report of the NZ Productivity Commission Housing Affordability Inquiry Friday.

    Prime Minister John Key has reacted favourably to the findings of this report this morning.

    The greatest mistake politicians and the heritage media make, is to treat the public with contempt, with poor quality and self serving information.

    The reality is that the public is a lot smarter than politicians and the heritage media think.

    This is something the MB team clearly understand – and why it has been such a great success to date.

    Going forward – the expanding success of MB will be assured,provided that this respect for the public is maintained.

    Hugh Pavletich
    Co author – Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
    http://www.PerformanceUrbanPlanning.org
    Christchurch
    New Zealand

  8. SkoptimistMEMBER

    Thanks MB for sharing your insights and making this a fantastic must read site.
    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  9. I’m the only engineer in a family of economists and lawyers, so a lot of this stuff has been a mystery to me until now. Discovering MB has allowed me to cut through the waffle and start to understand the forces that drive much of our society.

    The analysis is brilliant and insightful, and the writing is superb. I seldom go a day without my MB hit.

    Hats off to you guys, and best wishes for 2012. I’ll be here with you every day.

  10. I would like to add my thanks as well.

    This site is a brilliant creation and a great reflection of your editorial discipline, intellectual honesty and constant energy. The themed approach to economic and business content not only enables lively, timely and relevant conversation, it has also enriched my understanding and stimulated new learning.

    I hope you go from strength to strength. You deserve every success.

  11. Congratulations MB and thanks for all the great work.

    Quote of the year on MB, certainly most powerful quote of the year, was from either UE or DE, and was a comment on one of the articles a few months back. Wish I could reemmber who said it and exactly how it was worded, something like “the reason we have $5 coffees is our overpriced property market”. The exact words don’t matter, but dropping something like it in to conversation and then explaining the logic behind it has resulted in many “a-ha!” moments in other minds over the past few months.

  12. I first stumbled over MB back in May and I have been back every day since.

    Special mention to The Prince, my day isn’t complete until I have ready Trading Day.

  13. Thanks for being the prime example of why and how internet changes societies… by enabling not simple one way broadcasting of ideas but providing a true digital Forum, in the classic Greek/Roman sense, were ideas can be exchanged and myths are debunked.

    Thanks too for breaking the monopoly of some very dangerous politically motivated media outlets. I hope your example will be followed and Australian society will be infused with a national tendency for rigour and questioning of the status quo.

    You help me stay sane. πŸ˜›

    • Hugh PavletichMEMBER

      The wise use of the internet is the best “cleanser” of the democratic process I am aware of.

      MacroBusiness in Australia and Interest Co NZ in New Zealand are leading the way

  14. Many thanks for producing such a high quality piece of commentary over the year.

    MB should be compulsory reading, especially for policy makers.

  15. i’ll add my thanks and congratulations. have found this to be a superb resource. this may be my first post but i’ve been reading since march – found the blog via boganomics.

    thanks also to all the regular commenters – the interactive nature of responses usually serves to both improve the central thesis of a post and illuminate additional influencing factors. keep it coming!

  16. Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

    Congratulations MB team! Looking forward to a successful 2012 where you puncture several other MSM “bubbles.”

  17. Well as in all things the proof is in the eating.

    You have a Google ranking of 6 which is very impressive for a young site, and an Alexa Australian rank of 1880 with 445 sites linking in, which again is quite impressive.

    Someone somewhere behind the scenes is doing a very good job, and the quality of the content has matched that level of professionality.

    Keep it up.

  18. Excellent work guys. MB is a daily read for me since I discovered it.

    And each of the commentators generally provide excellent value, despite the odd spat πŸ™‚

    Bulls or bears, each opinion is worth considering.

  19. Congrats to all the MB bloggers, you’ve made this blog a national treasure!

    I’m no economist, but the mainstream media’s mantra about endless house prices rises and invincible banks didn’t square with the obvious growth in household debt. I’d seen what happened overseas when the debt party stopped and figured our luck couldn’t run forever.

    So I went to Google, looking for individuals with alternative views. Boy, there were some nutters around but sifting through the various blog posts I came across The Distillery (blogged by H&H), Delusional Economics and Unconventional Economist. All had reasoned analysis and clearly displayed the independence of thought missing from most journalist in the MSM. Creating the superblog was a superb idea, and cheers for all the brilliant articles and answering questions and joining in the discussion. All hail the power of blogs!

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Word.

      I found all of those blogs the same way. Plus the Tasmanian guy. It all just felt wrong.

      Two things tipped me off. The first was watching friends who earn only a third of what I do buying homes that I felt I couldn’t afford and still live my selfish yet outstanding lifestyle.

      The second was the stop/go bloke on the council giving me investment advice. Enough already.

      Congrats to the MB team.

      • Yup, I was a fan as soon as it started. Meant I had to go to one website in the morning at work, instead of three (UE, DE and HnH separate blogs)!

  20. Great work gents, it’s been a real pleasure getting some independent commentary. I particulate appreciate the interaction between the bloggers and commenteurs, it has made the quality of the comments section of each article very valuable. Looking forward to 2012, stay humble!

  21. Thankyou MB. Since I discovered this site in September, reading MB has been part of my daily routine. Keep up the good work.

  22. ‘Grate guys, like many others your site is an integral part of my daily reading routine and keeping abreast of what’s happening in the world.

    Bravo

  23. darklydrawlMEMBER

    Been with you guys since day 1 and it has been brilliant. Keep fighting the good fight and being honest about the world.

    Love the articles on here as well as the quality of the comments section.

    All I want now is a MB xmas party somewhere so I can a few of you a drink or three πŸ™‚

  24. I like MB cause,it’s like being back in
    remedial english class at school..so much fun and alot like maths..and this time around I’m getting sees instead of d’s,for the same effort..proves,Life just gets better at MB….and a year it was,with
    MB the only form of shelter going up in value in most streets..Congratulations,Crew,
    Cheers one and All …MX&HN..JR

  25. Thanks guys, you have provided us all with a great deal of useful information that is either ignored or not known to the mainstream media. Keep up the great work!!

  26. rob barrattMEMBER

    Brilliant stuff MB
    Just one thing: “young, smart and wealthy”? Don’t forget the old, grumpy and not so smart followers who lost a lot of it in the GFC….

  27. I hope your example could have a future flow on effect on the quality printed by the MSM (which is quite pathetic currently, you are showing them how it is done).Just please be a bit less hysterical/neurotic on your European “analysis” next year.

  28. I am grateful I found Steve Keen’s “debtdeflation” site for the insight he has given on the state of macroeconomics. That insight has benefited me financially over the last year or so.

    I recently found “macrobusiness” and commend the authors on their analysis and insight. It gives greater breadth to what I have learnt from Steve Keen and look forward to guidance regarding finances over the next few years.

    I have long past stopped listening to the buy and hold advisors. The present macroeconomic position worldwide is unique and requires an analytical approach to understand rather than extrapolation for historical data. Advisors recommending buy and hold are happy to take fees while your savings evaporate. The Australian superannuation industry is a paradise for parasites and needs major overhaul.

  29. A toast and thanks to bloggers and everyone at MB.
    It’s a fantastic site.
    Europe analysis by DE has been great all year. Admittably the comments can show some anxiety at times due to the circumstances.

  30. Excellent work all year,

    I went out looking for information on the australian housing situation at the start of this year. I found many sites but yours has been the best by far. This has been because of the research behind the arguments and the quality of the analysis. I now find myself reading every article and enjoying the posts.

    Congratulations for making all who read think a little more.

  31. Congrats, the hard work shows and is much appreciated.

    The first step in achieving reform is making sure that people understand why reform is needed.

    Super Blogs are a fantastic way for people with specialist technical or industry knowledge, insight and an ability to communicate, to let the public know what is really going on and to participate in the debate.

    Looking forward to lots of interesting articles and reasoned debate in your 2nd year.

  32. Tassie TomMEMBER

    Thanks guys.

    I can’t believe it’s only MB’s first year – I thought 6 months ago that it must have been going for years and that I’d only just found it.

    I read it every day, and if I don’t then I have to catch up on yesterday’s.

    I love the charts, and I love how if the chart is not representive of the data then it is subject to statistical scrutiny. Pictures say so much!

    And I think Father Christmas might be bringing me a book about Boganomics.

    Cheers.

  33. I’m a economics/finance ignoramus and your blog has helped make sense of the various economic predicaments we find ourselves in. I can now proudly say I understand what I’m reading almost half the time!
    Congratulations an I look forward to next year’s contributions.

  34. Congrats MB glad you all joined forces. Really enjoy your posts.

    Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to you all and the people who are regulars on the site.

    LBS

  35. I am another daily reader. You do great work. It is refreshing to have an alternative to the MSM coming from the Antipodes and I know from other blogs you are noticed and read the world over. Thank you.

  36. Thank you MB! I do look forward to my daily macrobusiness wrap delivered to my inbox. MB always provides great reading and for me is very educational. I thank you for compiling this great resource and I look forward to see what happens in 2012.

  37. Yaaaaaaaaaaay Team!

    Well done on the first, exciting, factually and predictively correct year of Superblogging. I wish all the MB team – and loyal followers including fanboys, bots and contrarians – a Merry Christmas and safe and happy New Year.

    Now guys, don’t take too much time off, ’cause I need to be kept up-to-date with the REAL news. And I do think 2012 will keep the blog full and very interesting!

  38. Thanks MB ! only stumbled across the site a few weeks ago, already a website I visit daily. Love it ! Im only young, (25 is still young right?…right?!) but I’ve learnt so much in the short period Ive been here. Thanks again.

  39. MB team, thank you a lot for educating ordinary people like me in modern economy. I’ve been reading your analysis for few months and now I understand what’s happening with the world much better. Thank you a heap and look forward to staying with you next year!

  40. Fantastic work all the bloggers here have put in over the last 12 months, the commentary has improved like a good wine (with age).

    Looking forward to the team’s guidance through the 2012 minefield.

  41. Agree with all of the effusion of praise above. MB is the best site in Australia today. I’ve been following the contributors since before you banded together and honestly believe that you have saved me years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars by staying out of the housing market.

    you, the audience, are very high calibre – young, smart and wealthy

    Aw shucks. Almost makes me embarrassed to use adblock pro.

  42. Dear Houses & Holes, MB & Co.,

    Indeed congratulations. I became a regular reader of this site mid-2011 and it has become one of a short list of “go to” online sources for economic and financial analysis and commentary.

    As a senior marketing practitioner and a an ordinary consumer of media, it is exciting, yet confronting and a little unnerving, to see traditional media continue to fragment. The industry is meandering through a fascinating juncture, rapidly pushed along by relentless technology advancements in communication. Maybe too rapidly.

    As people around the world continue to abandon broadcast television, paper based newspapers and magazines in favour of better (and worse) niche content via all manner of transmition devices, what lies ahead with respect to the supply and consumption of information that will contribute to shaping our societies?

    Where will the journey take us?

    Will individuals seek to find diversity of opinion to enable a balanced perspective? Or will people simply latch onto that which agrees with their own values and opinions? Or indeed, is the latter how it has always been?

    Regarding MacroBusiness.com.au, what will your site do with it’s new found popularity and thus, the responsibilities that popularism implicates?

    I do hope it is not the way of many, many overnight successes that have come before.

    Best wishes for the future.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      “Will individuals seek to find diversity of opinion to enable a balanced perspective?”

      Part of the reason I love this site is it is open and generally respectful of other people opinions. Some of the best threads on here have been people have shared different views or have disagreed about certain points.

      Best of all, much of the data is actually backed up with analysis and evidence rather than “he said, she said” type claims.

      There is also no fear and shame in admitting they got it wrong. That alone is worth a lot in my opinion. Respect to you all folks.

  43. I arrived here from UE and have found the site thoughtful and compelling. Its a daily must view for me and I don’t want to even think about the time I have spent here!

    Keep on punching above your weight.

    Best wishes for 2012

  44. As one of you demographic misfits (old, dumb and broke), I enjoy reading (and learning stuff) MB daily. Keep up with quality posts and I hope you make further headway into MSM.

  45. Sincere thanks to all those who made this possible and additional contributors who have relentlessly worked towards establishing an enviable standard and holding peers accountable.

    And my 2011 take away: MB Glossary….will warrant as a must re-read before 2012 commences (Inivispower!, Bullhawks….)

  46. A big congratulation on your success. MB came as the fresh air we longed needed. Your contibutions in many sense are greatly appreciated. Well done and keep up the good work.

  47. Yes you have a fine job, as good as zh and silverstackers and a handful of others I could add.

  48. Bravo ! Please narrate the growth story of blog (with stats of course) the highs and lows, self doubts because this blog is truly a success story.

    Macrobusiness is the first web page I log onto every morning….thank you for making this happen !

  49. Viva la MB!
    Revelatory and refreshing. It makes sense where others just perplex and sustain. MB constantly treats their audience, economically/financially educated or not, with equal respect.
    I’ve made it my essential daily reading (even if I only have time to scan) and introduced many others in the last 6+ months.
    The comments from the carousel of regular readers I also find crucial and enlightening to the overall analysis, furthering my understanding so I thank them too.

  50. Thanks team MB been reading all year.

    Now since you guys have made so many right calls on the direction of the market, you must have made squillions right ? so how about a round of beers for all of us ?

    P.S I would have made squillions as well but I’m a sloooow learner !

  51. Well done guys – who would have thunk that good research and solid analysis would be such a hit πŸ˜‰

    Most MSM (particularly financial) has been well exposed as a Daffy Duck cartoon!

  52. Merry Christmas to all founders and contributors of MB, and Happy New Year to all.

    My economic education has expanded hugely this year and I am passing on the MB link to each and every person I have a discussion with about housing, mortgages, superannuation, education, the wisdom of saving, the general state of the nation, young and old. As a small business owner and employer, this site has been an invaluable resource and helps refine my instincts. With knowledge, we still may all prosper.

  53. Gold stars all round Gents, was reading it from day one back in the old country, continued the daily dose from when I arrived here in April.

    Pedum spurios tenere ad ignem

    Greg

  54. A truly outstanding site, I have learnt so much from you guys, thanks. I look forward to more next year