Houses and Holes

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Into the maelstrom

Let me begin my reiterating my sympathies for the Japanese. There are a number of very big cross currents at work for markets today. The first, of course, if the suffering of the Japanese. Across the world, the coverage is remarkably alike, a result perhaps of diminishing foreign correspondent budgets and the secrecy of the

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Japan fallout

Right now we do not know what is happening in Japan’s nuclear reactors. According to CNN, however, the news is very worrying: A meltdown may be under way at one of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power reactors in northern Japan, an official with Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told CNN Sunday. “There is a possibility,

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Links March 10: Relative calm

More pain for PIIGS:  Greece run. Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium. Obama’s no fly zone is looking like PR. FT Libyan war. FT $US sideways. Grains futures flogged. Metals crushed. Energies, gold flat. Greece reaches do or die. To Vima (h/t Calculated Risk) Ireland up for haircuts. Labour (h/t Calculated Risk) PIMCO dumps all Treasuries. Zero Hedge No OPEC capacity increase. Reuters

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Shocked consumers

In my previous post on Phil Lowe’s speech, I noted that the RBA is hawkish and clearly still concerned that consumers will binge as mining boom income passes through the economy. The killer quote was: Not unexpectedly, this decline in the relative price of manufactured goods has caught the attention of the household sector. In

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The RBA shows an iron hand

Assistant Governor Philip Lowe has delivered a fantastic speech for those wishing to understand the current transition of the Australian economy and how the RBA thinks about it. It’s a very long speech and I suggest you read it in full. But here, at least, are a few highlights. First on inflation and purchasing power

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Revenge of the PIIGS

Overnight, markets received a boost from OPEC member’s declaration that they’ll fill any existing or potential supply gap. Later, there was some doubt about the veracity of the claim. The energy complex nonetheless retreated a little, as did gold, and equities jumped. Metals were sold off early then bounced to be even. However, other markets remain

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Have the banks’ rate increases peaked?

From Banking Day today: Westpac’s chief executive, Gail Kelly, said yesterday that she intends to make out-of-cycle interest rate cuts when lower funding costs permit, which she hopes will be in 2013 or 2014. Speaking on the ABC’s 7.30 program, Kelly said she expected the bank’s average cost of funds to plateau towards the end of

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Sell signal

I don’t know if you trade, but if you do, there are clear reasons to get cautious. There is a gathering storm over the global economy and market patterns are now making it plain that the risk of a lightening strike is outweighing the benefits of remaining outdoors. Regular readers will know that I have

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Carr’s wrong turn

All right you lot, no more reference to myself in the third person. Today Adam Carr takes on the RBA (h/t The Lorax) in arguing that: So how is it that the household savings ratio has risen so sharply then? Surely consumption must have fallen to facilitate this? Okay, that sounds reasonable and I’m hearing

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Ken Henry’s lucky country

On Friday evening, Treasury boss Ken Henry delivered his final public address before stepping down in March. At the University of Tasmania Giblin Lecture, Henry delivered his magnum opus, a broad review of Australian economic history spanning three centuries (full transcript below, h/t The Lorax). The document is a must read in full, but the

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Labor’s destructive secrecy

The Age today published new Wikileak revelations about the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and it’s policy vis-a-vis China: Canberra’s foreign investment regulator has privately admitted that it is seeking to limit investment from China in response to political concern about the control of Australia’s strategic resources. Contrary to the federal government’s claims that it

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The next domino

Predicting economic outcomes is hard. Predicting economic outcomes in conjunction with political unrest is impossible. Especially if that unrest is at the centre of global energy production. At least, that is the conclusion one should draw from last night’s US selloff. Rumours of Saudi unrest are flying, without much substantiation. Ongoing protests are planned in

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Is gold the new global reserve?

Someone else has finally noticed that a sea change has transpired in forex markets during the oil crisis. As this blogger noted last week, the $US has not enjoyed its traditional safe haven role on the flight to safety trade. Sovereign Man picks up the theme today to argue that this is the end for

11

Housing ponzi stumbles on

The RBA’s lending January credit aggregates were out yesterday and the reading is fascinating. It is no surprise to regular readers that the rate of credit growth in Australia has slowed, a phenomenon it calls disleveraging. January’s credit was a continuation of the several months before it. Owner-occupied mortgages grew month on month at a seasonally adjusted

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Moody’s uninformed market

After the announcement of the Moody’s review overnight, it’s something of a spectacle watching the banks swing from the line that they need to raise interest rates because of rising wholesale borrowing costs to telling us not to worry about rising wholesale borrowing costs. From the Wall Street Journal: In response to Moody’s, Commonwealth Bank’s

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Kloppers, Marius Kloppers…

As this blogger keeps saying, not all markets are created equal. In strategic commodity markets, where governments are big players, the dynamics are not as simple as the balance of supply and demand determining equilibrium. In strategic commodities, when prices go up, demand does not fall. Rather, it increases as governments panic about security of

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Paul Krugman is wrong (updated)

A few days ago, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman declared again that there is no ‘financialisation’ element to the current commodity price surge. He began: I’ve been getting a fair bit of correspondence insisting that political unrest, in the Arab world and elsewhere, is being caused by … Ben Bernanke. You see, quantitative easing is responsible for

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The China domino

The stated goal of the Hu Jintao-led Chinese government is a “harmonious society”. Perhaps that is why the word “Egypt” was blocked on certain search engines over the weekend. Multiple factors are in play in Egypt, but there is one vital similarity with China: Food inflation of a breadth and severity that few in the

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SOW – Heath Behncke

Australian politicians reacting to out of cycle mortgage re-pricing perceive a lack of banking competition as the reason. The more likely answer is a rising cost of capital and ongoing structural change in bank funding globally. The evidence is clear when you look at banking systems around the globe. We are not alone. In fact,

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The Six Million Dollar Central Bank

This blog delivered the RBA a bit a of a serve for inconsistency late last week after the boffins’ appearance in Parliament. Having read the hansard, however, what is also obvious is just how much the RBA is rebuilding itself from the ruins of the crashed debt pilots of yesteryear. Let’s take a look. Gone

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Corporate dissonance

According to Elisabeth Knight at the SMH: If BHP’s management is to be criticised for this offer it should be on the basis of potentially under- estimating the political backlash from the Canadians. It is too early to make that call, given the final adjudication has not yet been made. BHP knows from recent experience

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No wood, all trees…

According to Banking Day: In a speech to a Finsia financial services conference, [RBA boffin Luci] Ellis argued that far from being complacent about a bubble, the RBA was searching for danger signs. But, she said, it was important to go beyond statistical averages to understand the housing market. As an example, she set out

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Unpleasant scenarios

The blowoff in gold and oil must mean that we are rapidly approaching the zenith of this charming QE2 rally, which has morphed swiftly into outright currency war. Helicopter Ben is now completely boxed in by the stock market which has rightly interpreted his Jackson Hole pledge to print money “if” needed as a rock

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Housing velocity

Population growth is often cited as a causal factor in the overvaluation of Australian real estate. And indeed, strong population growth is a factor, particularly in recent years when housing starts have diminished, most especially in NSW. But one infrequently quoted housing statistic that calls into question the strength of population growth causation is what

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Is Aussie Mac real?

Robert Gottliebsen today takes on government guarantees of Australian banks. It is more than welcome that this topic gets greater public scrutiny. It is nothing short of bizarre that the very foundation upon which Australian banks operate has shifted and yet we carry on as if nothing has changed. Nonetheless, there are a series of

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Cliff or plateau?

This week saw the release of the RBA’s June credit aggregates, as well as the first concrete evidence that house prices are rolling over from RPData. Neither was terrifying but neither also was reassuring. As usual, the mainstream media offered up a plate of bullish slop, preferring to quote quarterly growth figures over the much