Houses and Holes


Vested interests continue to drive gas debate

Alcoa has chimed into the growing gas debate, backing the Brickworks CEO against gas producers. From the AFR: Aluminium maker Alcoa claims it is “perverse” that Australia’s gas prices are “among the highest in the world”, escalating the stoush between gas producers and industrial users. Alcoa chairman Alan Cransberg said that gas giant Santos had dismissed


Early evidence that the carbon tax works

From David Uren at The Australian: CARBON emissions from the electricity sector have dived in the first six months under the carbon tax, with much greater use of renewable energy and cutbacks in consumption. …Total emissions from the electricity sector in the December half were 7.5 million tonnes lower than in the same half of


Australian dollar leaps on BOJ disappointment

It may be hard to believe but the Bank of Japan just disappointed markets with its announcement that it target 2% inflation and print another $2 trillion Yen to buy everything in sight. From Bloomie: The Bank of Japan set a 2 percent inflation target and said it will shift to Federal Reserve-style open-ended asset purchases in


ACCI Investor Confidence plumbs new depths

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry largely represents building and manufacturing interests. It’s quarterly sentiment survey is therefore aimed at that part of the economy that is being targeted for a rebound in investment by the RBA and Treasury in lieu of falling mining capex. And there is a little hope in the survey


Are my trousers slipping on interest rates?

Regular readers will know that I’ve bet my shorts on the current rate cycle having further to fall. Today, the Kouk seeks to loosen my belt, coming out in support of Paul Bloxham’s pioneering call made late last year that the interest rate cycle has bottomed. From BS: The interest rate cutting cycle in Australia


First home buyer price expectations collapse

Find below Westpac’s quarterly survey of consumer house price expectations, which seems to have surprised with a decent fall in January. Westpac puts on a brave face but if there is a first home buyer strike, it seems to have been entrenched by the death of FHOG: Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer House Price Expectations Index moderated in


Daily iron ore price update (more support)

Find below the iron ore price complex table for January 21, 2013: And the chart: The big news overnight is that Indian ore continues to slide down the top exporters list. From Reuters: South Africa overtook India to become China’s third-biggest iron ore supplier in 2012, while Australia strengthened its dominant position as the major


Defence looking at protecting miners in Africa

From the AFR comes this interesting snippet: Defence will review the fatal Algerian gas plant hostage crisis to develop a strategy to better protect up to 5000 Australian mining, oil and gas workers across Africa. The chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, told a defence lunch in Canberra on Monday that the incident in


Macro Investor to join forces with Intelligent Investor

Change is afoot for Macro Investor subscribers. Macro Investor has joined forces with Intelligent Investor. The depth and the quality of their stock analysis and superannuation advice is excellent and is highly complementary to our top-down approach. The Macro Investor team will write regularly for Intelligent Investor and will join the Intelligent Investor panel of experts


China property prices up in December

It’s not easy to judge exactly but it looks like China’s real estate prices continued to recover in December, more cities in both new and existing stock shown rises and less showed falls. Month on month looks more positive: And year on year: But with such vague data it is difficult to conclude much beyond


CPI previews

Some of the sting has gone out of next week’s December quarter CPI release because the RBA is unlikely to cut in February unless iron ore falls  off its perch. Still, a soft reading might give them pause and if TD Securities monthly inflation is any guide, the number will be soft. Westpac certainly thinks so,


QLD’s Petri dish unemployment

The last 24 hours has seen an unusually high level of drivel emanating from our point-scoring politicians and media, this time over unemployment statistics. Carried largely by the News Ltd press, the Opposition and Government have respectively had Ricardian and Keynesian convulsions. The Opposition claims that the weakening employment market is the result of the


The APRA move on SMSF lending

Yesterday’s letter from APRA to ADIs warning of higher risks associated with SMSF mortgages has been clarified. From Banking Day: APRA said that for the purposes of its capital adequacy standard, APS 112, SMSF loans are “relatively more complex” than standard mortgages. “As such, SMSF loans may have a different and potentially higher loss profile in


APRA warns on SMSF mortgages

From the AFR: The prudential regulator has told banks that they must not treat home loans to self-managed superannuation funds in the same way they do regular mortgages. In a letter sent to banks and building societies on Thursday, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority says that lenders must treat mortgages taken out by self managed


Abbott spouts Ricardian gobbledygook

Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has chimed in on today’s weak employment report: It was no wonder jobs growth was weak “when you’ve got a government which simply cannot deliver when it comes to budget management….No government can be good for jobs if it is not good for the economy,” he said. “As Julia Gillard herself


Unemployment back to 5.4%

ABS December unemployment figures are out and the stuttering rise continues with the official rate up 2bps  to 5.4%. The trend is definitely up: Full time employment fell 13.8k and part time rose 8.3k for a balance on the month of minus 5.5k. The participation rate continues to disguise the job shedding, remaining flat at