Houses and Holes


Is our economy just a case of your mood?

Some weeks ago I pointed that there was a growing gap between the government’s rhetoric on the economy – that we’re exceptional owing to the mining “boom” – and the reality of the economy for the vast majority of the population. I made the point that the government’s economic narrative had hit a wall given the


February 20 links: Productivity palava

United States Here come gas prices. Calculated Risk, Pragmatic Capitalism Week ahead for Dow. Calculated Risk Stocks and bonds still singing different tunes. Business Insider The temp job recovery. Washington Post Europe Europe enters decline. FT China China railway construction. China Bystander Xi Jinping. FT  Other Iran stops UK, French company sales. Bloomberg Global QE


Roy Morgan: ABS job figures “defy belief”

From Roy Morgan this afternoon and presented without comment: Yesterday’s ABS unemployment estimates (showing January unemployment dropping to 5.1%) defy belief — and common sense. The constant stream of companies announcing retrenchments in the early stages of 2012 are a clear sign that the ABS figures are diverging from reality. Roy Morgan’s unemployment estimate (10.3%,


Parko meet petard (updated)

Regular readers will know that the Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson and I disagree on many things. And that tradition continues today with a speech last night given at the opening of ANU’s new Centre for Economic History. The nub of my disagreement with Dr Parkinson is captured here: Indeed, I cannot count the number of


Australian ‘kurzarbeit’

As the Unconventional Economist describes today, yesterday’s employment number although excellent contained one dark spot, a big fall in hours worked. The trend in hours worked has also very clearly been down through the last quarter of last year: The unemployment rate, however, has essentially been unmoved. I can think of two explanations for this.


February 17 links: US momentum

Markets: Down:  USD, Treasuries, gold, metals, ore Up: grains, energies, Aussie, Euro, CRB Sovereign Yields: Greece 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Portugal 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Ireland 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Spain 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Italy 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Belgium 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year France 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year


Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence eases

From Roy Morgan: Consumer Confidence has fallen to 115.7pts (down 1.3pts in a week), according to the Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating conducted last weekend (February 11/12, 2012). Consumer Confidence is now 6.2 points lower than a year ago, February 12/13, 2011 (121.9). The decrease in Consumer Confidence is due mainly to Australians being more


Employment strong

JANUARY KEY FIGURES Dec 2011 Jan 2012 Dec 11 to Jan 12 Jan 11 to Jan 12 Trend Employed persons (‘000) 11 446.8 11 448.5 1.7 0.2 % Unemployed persons (‘000) 627.5 623.7 -3.8 3.3 % Unemployment rate (%) 5.2 5.2 0.0 pts 0.1 pts Participation rate (%) 65.3 65.3 -0.1 pts -0.5 pts Seasonally


Lowe omits China

There’a another speech today by the RBA, with Deputy Governor Phil Lowe addressing CEDA on the forces driving the economy in the year ahead. It’s fairly run-of-the-mill stuff: structural adjustment, high exchange rate, mining boom, tradeables and housing weakness etc. Two parts of the speech caught my eye. The first was the section on risks,


Ore gets another towelieing

So, as predicted, ore looks vulnerable and continued its weakness last night. The spot prices got whacked another $2.20, down 1.6% to $137.40. We are still some ways above the next chart supports at $130.80, the post rout lows of late last year: Sadly for the miracle commodity, the 12 month swaps, which tend to


Fed Minutes

Find below the full Fed Minutes released last night. Staff Review of the Economic Situation The information reviewed at the January 24-25 meeting indicated that U.S. economic activity continued to expand moderately, while global growth appeared to be slowing. Overall conditions in the labor market improved further, although the unemployment rate remained elevated. Consumer price


February 16 links: A convergence of powers

Markets: Up:  USD, Treasuries, gold Mixed: grains, energies, Aussie, Euro, CRB, metals Hammered: ore Sovereign Yields: Greece 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Portugal 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Ireland 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Spain 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Italy 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Belgium 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year France 2 Year 5 Year 10


Westpac’s children hike

From the SMH, just when you thought it was safe to go back into borrowing: St George Bank has lifted its standard variable home loan rate by more than the big four banks, saying it is important for the economy that it remains strong. St George will lift its standard variable rate (SVR) by 12


Consumers breath a sigh of relief

The Westpac–Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment index is out and increased by 4.2% in February from 97.1 in January to 101.1 in February. This is decent rise on the month: And not a bad result for rate cuts. Though smaller than the bounce in 2008 and in 2006 when the RBA stopped tightening. But confidence


Ore looks vulnerable, again

Iron ore has had a nice bounce since the October rout of last year but there are signs that that has run its course and new weakness is appearing across the charts. For a start, the spot price itself has rolled over and is accelerating downwards: Next, a look at the 12 month futures is


February 15 links: European recession

Markets: Flat:  USD, Treasuries Down: grains, energies, Aussie, Euro, CRB, metals, gold Hammered: ore Sovereign Yields: Greece 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Portugal 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Ireland 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Spain 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Italy 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Belgium 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year France 2 Year 5 Year 10


NAB Survey going nowhere

The NAB Survey for February is out (didnt we just have January?) and shows a very mixed bag: So, confidence and conditions improved a little more but remain in the doldrums. Employment remained depressed and at levels suggesting job losses. Profitability tanked but at least labour price pressures eased. NAB itself reckons: Overall business confidence


Dad’s Army fumbles the bazooka

God save me from the Australian media. Robert Gottliebsen, who I openly acknowledge is a legend, has really lost the plot today. Apparently: The debate is on. When I set out yesterday how Treasurer Wayne Swan now has the power to play a big role in setting the level of interest rates, and that the


Debelle embraces the unknown

It was obvious in the recent SoMP that the 2012 RBA is more circumspect than the 2011 version. And we have more evidence of a useful acceptance of doubt (or should I say “risk”) in today’s speech by the Assistant Governor Guy Debelle on the local effects of recent shifts in European capital markets. Debelle


A key driver of a US recovery

It’s not all that often that I read a piece of research from the banks that impresses me. One exception is Westpac’s Huw MacKay and his periodical, Phat Dragon. More broadly, as I’ve said before, Westpac’s institutional research is the best, with the bold Bill Evans leading the pack on interest rates. But I’m tempted


February 14 links: Productivity pow wow

Markets: Flat:  Treasuries Up: grains, energies, Aussie, Euro, CRB Down: ore, metals, gold, USD Sovereign Yields: Greece 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Portugal 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Ireland 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Spain 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Italy 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year Belgium 2 Year 5 Year 10 Year France 2 Year 5 Year 10


Reserve Bank of NAB hikes

And here is the last of the majors: National Australia Bank (NAB) today confirmed that its standard variable home loan interest rate would increase by 0.09% to 7.31% pa – the lowest of the major banks. NAB’s standard variable home loan rate of 7.31% pa is effective from Monday 20 February and means NAB customers


Reserve Bank of CBA hikes

The Reserve Bank of the CBA has joined the fray, hiking 0.1%: The Commonwealth Bank today announced it will increase interest rates for its variable rate home loan accounts by 0.10 per cent per annum and for its six month Term Deposit account by 0.20 per cent.  The change in home loan interest rates reflect


Reserve Bank of BEN hikes

And there goes anothery! From the SMH: Regional lender Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has increased its standard variable mortgage rate 15 basis points to 7.45 per cent, becoming the latest lender to hike interest rates outside the Reserve Bank’s interest process. Westpac and the ANZ defied the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and lifted variable rates 0.10


It’s a credit crunch, stupid

My God our media is backward. I mean it. It has no idea what is going on beyond a press release shoved in its face. It’s baffling. The weekend reaction to the banks’ Friday rate hikes was dominated by a schoolyard binary construction of the problem: the banks versus the government. Some took the side


February 13 links: Bank blather

   United States Youth unemployment highest since WWII. Time Income bugs the consumer. Reuters Yep Week ahead for the Dow. Calculated Risk Magazine cover indicator screams sell. Barrons Europe Germany will save everyone but Greece. Gavyn Davies Asia China tells banks to roll dodgy debt. FT Local The Campaign for National Ignorance ramps up. Nasty, neeeeargative


Reserve Bank of WBC hikes

As expected, Westpac’s Gail Kelly has taken guidance from the Governor of the Reserve bank of ANZ, Mike Smith, and raised rates on variable mortgages by 10bps: Westpac has followed ANZ’s lead in increasing its standard variable interest rates after the Reserve Bank’s decision on Tuesday to leave rates on hold. Earlier today, ANZ lifted


Reserve Bank of ANZ analysis

So, rather sensibly, ANZ has pulled the trigger. The 0.06% hike to loans that everyone has, not in the least offset by the .15% cut to the fixed rate loans that nobody has. Of course if borrowers jump in, rates are likely to immediately fall past that very rate! (h/t GB) Undoubtedly the major banks