Houses and Holes

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The people want a mining tax

Per Capita is a small progressive thing tank run by former LEK consultant, David Hetherington. Today it released a new study of Australian attitudes towards the tax system. Hetherington says: The Per Capita Tax Survey for 2011 has asked 1,300 Australians for their views on personal tax contributions, overall taxation levels, public service spending and

22

More on bank funding vulnerability

MB has carried a lively debate this morning on interest rates and the bank’s vulnerability to wholesale funding. The Unconventional Economist quoted from the new RBNZ Financial Stability report to show that the New Zealand central bank is very concerned that markets are signaling that the Australian banks are just as vulnerable as they were

3

US recession data marches on

Last night’s US data was not reassuring. The two North Eastern Fed manufacturing indices both missed market expectations. The Empire State Index fell further, prices rose and employment dropped, a nasty combination: The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers worsened for a fourth consecutive month in September. The general business conditions index

12

Car sales bounce again (or do they?)

ABS new cars ales are out for August and show a 3.3% jump yoy: TOTAL NEW MOTOR VEHICLE SALES The August 2011 trend estimate (83 720) has increased by 1.3% when compared with July 2011. Seasonally Adjusted – The August 2011 seasonally adjusted estimate for new motor vehicle sales (87 935) increased by 3.3% when

4

Consumers’ dour expectations

Westpac has today released its “Expectations Chart Pack”, which includes both inflation and employment expectations (find it below). This month’s results are fascinating. It is no surprise that consumers view of future inflation remains unchanged from last month as the heat has gone out of the CPI debate: I am a little surprised, however, at

5

More signs of US slowing

I’ve been arguing for some months that the US economy is slowing. More recently I added the narrative that at the zero bound for monetary policy, where the core price signal ceases to have meaning, it is the expectation of price intentions in the economic leaders themselves that becomes the primary signal. In short, it

12

CPI revisionism

Here are a couple of bank takes on today’s ABS CPI revisions. Consensus is that the RBA’s job of holding rates steady just got a bit easier. I beg to differ. The ABS just handed a PR weapon to every disgruntled business lobby in the services economy. Anyways, Rumplestatskin, our very own CPI guru, will

25

Interest rate magic

Consumer Confidence for September is out and shows a jump of 8.1%. Bill Evans puts this down to: This is a surprisingly strong result. We think it emphasises just how important interest rates are to households. Recall that since early May the Reserve Bank has been threatening to raise interest rates. As recently as the August Board meeting

60

Do we need a media inquiry?

Well…yes…I should say so. Rupert Murdoch owns 70% of Australian newspapers. One of his UK operations has been shown to use unethical practices on an unsettling scale. Those two seem fair enough reasons to me. On the first, the concentration of ownership in newspapers is both a competition issue and a social-democratic one. Many of

39

The Pascoe indicator

This afternoon, Michael Pascoe wrote a soothing piece on the European crisis that I found troubling. We don’t need to get past the first two paragraphs to find out why: Hands up anyone who thinks a Greek debt default is inevitable. OK, absolutely everyone can all put their hands down. That’s what Europe’s banks think too –

34

Is the equity market a dill?

Yes, I’d say it is. As FOMC member, Thomas Koenig put it recently in a CNBC video interview with Steve Liesman: …a capitalistic economy – if you really believe in its long-term benefits – has cycles. People do make mistakes. See, the market is valuable not because it’s the smartest in the world, but because

64

Attention manufacturing, here’s your hire

Not just manufacturing, actually. There needs to be a new umbrella peak body/lobby group covering all non-resource exporters – manufacturing, tourism and education (maybe primary goods too). That group needs to go head-to-head with the Minerals Council of Australia over the soul of the Australian people and the fear gene of the Australian government. And

42

Gold looks vulnerable

I am of the view that the bull market in gold is far from over. To me, it’s obvious that so long as the fiscal and monetary frameworks that support the $US are in chaos, then gold fundamentals are strong. Arguments over the value of the metal are irrelevant. You can’t price chaos. This is

14

Is the RBA accountable?

Well…that was quick. In the early days of last week I wrote a post called “They are coming for the RBA”. In it I described how: It is one thing to be raising interest rates, or threatening to, when jobs are raining from the heavens. You’re an economic warrior then, gleaming with righteous sweat as

16

The powerless Fed

Markets sold off last night on the concern that Fed is not going to man the big QE3 pump. With good reason it seems, though there is still hope. We know that the dominant clique at the FOMC is concerned about inflation. However, in his speech overnight, Ben Bernanke made it clear, rightly, that the

23

More on labour hoarding

Find below HSBC’s and NAB’s take on today’s jump in unemployment. Both are even handed assessments on the unwinding of labour hoarding but also more sanguine than I am about the immediate trajectory for the jobless rate. Two reasons I can think of for the weakness concentrated in both WA and QLD. First, that’s where

25

More on unemployment

So, NSW lost 12,000 full time jobs, VIC added 17,000 but that was a give back for last month’s drop of 29,000 so over two months is down 12,000, Qld and SA dropped 2,000 and WA lost 5,000. Here’s a chart of the states unemployment rates: And here is what is about to become a

16

Extinction is a crisis

Yesterday Deutsche Bank released a new report into Dutch disease and it makes fascinating reading. The report more or less follows the line put forth by the Canberra boffins, that manufacturing has been in long term decline and offers some quite useful charts. The report concludes the following (with comments): Manufacturing is in long-term decline,

61

Gooooooo GOP!

I would like to able to report this morning that US economic leadership has reached a rapprochement. That both Treasury and the Federal Reserve have agreed a new round of stimulus measures that aim specifically to create US jobs and reverse the decline of its middle class through a sensible balance of medium term spending,

56

GDP double takes

Here are some more analyses of today’s National Accounts. The pick in my view is the first by Bill Mitchell: As winter arrived (June 1), the March quarter Australian National Accounts came out and showed that the Australian economy contracted by a staggering 1.2 per cent. With the seasons passing into spring and the warm

41

A couple of points from the Guv

I really quite enjoyed this morning’s speech from Glenn Stevens. It was lively and candid and offered a couple of points worth noting for monetary policy debates. The first point I want to make is that Stevens has rather subtly ridden to the defense of the RBA board: By the time of the May Board meeting, there

4

Still interesting times

Here’s a copy of Glenn Stevens speech he is currently delivering in WA: Still Interesting Times Glenn Stevens Governor Address to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Western Australia) and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (Western Australia) Corporate Breakfast Perth – 7 September 2011 It is very good to be with you this morning. In the

33

Europe’s optimism trap

To describe as sobering last night’s UBS report into the consequences of a European breakup hardly does it justice. It is about time someone began to assess the consequences of a breakup with a hard, cold eye and kudos to UBS for doing so. Hopefully it will help dispel some of the elementary drivel floating around

31

Qld drives housing finance bounce

So, we’re having a bit of a bounce in housing finance. Owner occupied was up 1.6% in July and investors 1.9%. Nothing too extravagant but certainly a rising from the floor. To the knees one might say: We’ve recovered much of the territory lost in the first half slump, though as you can see the

34

More CEOs grab bonuses

In The Great Crash of 2008, Ross Garnaut and I identified four major causes of the GFC: housing bubbles, global imbalances, clever money and greed. Pretty much none of these causes has been seriously addressed. But today I’m going to focus on the last. Greed is a part of all bubbles of course, but in