Unconventional Economist


ABS employment in detail: Botox Boom continues

By Leith van Onselen As summarised earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released its labour force report for December, which registered a strong 34,700 increase in total employment but an increase in the headline unemployment rate (from 5.4% to 5.5%). In trend terms, the unemployment rate fell marginally from 5.45% to 5.44% –


Australia’s dwelling construction set to decline over 2018

By Leith van Onselen The ABS has released dwelling construction data for the September quarter of 2017, which recorded an increase in dwelling commencements but a fall in completions. According to the ABS, the number of dwelling commencements rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.7% over the September quarter but were down by 3.3% over the year.


Housing finance commitments rise on FHB stimulus

By Leith van Onselen Today’s housing finance data for November, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), posted a big jump in lending to owner-occupiers as well as a smaller increase in lending to investors. According to the ABS, the total number of owner-occupier finance commitments (excluding refinancings) rose by 2.4% in November in


Coalition liars comprehensively shamed on negative gearing

By Leith van Onselen The Coalition’s strident defence of negative gearing, and the lies used to support the policy, is looking increasingly toxic for the Turnbull Government. Last week, the ABC’s FOI release from the Australian Treasury showed that Labor’s policy to restrict negative gearing to new builds and halve the capital gains tax (CGT) discount


Links 15 January 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Iraq Joins U.A.E., Qatar in Call to Keep Oil Cuts – Bloomberg Tricks for Hanging On in a Melt Up – Behavioral Macro The 10 Companies That Dominate the Global Arms Trade – Visual Capitalist What the Data Tells Us About Bitcoin in 2017 – Coin Desk How a


Is Perth’s housing market “close to bottoming out”?

By Leith van Onselen From WA Today comes the eternal question about whether Perth’s housing market is about to recover: Australia’s peak housing body predicts Western Australia’s housing market is close to “bottoming out”… “The WA market is approaching a bottoming out point after record highs in 2014,” he said. “Since then it’s fallen back


AFG shows huge drop in interest-only mortgages

By Leith van Onselen Australian Finance Group (AFG) has released its housing finance data for the December quarter, which registered a seasonal fall in mortgage applications, as well as a decline year-on-year. The number of mortgage applications fell by 2.3% over the December quarter and was down by 3.0% over the year, whereas the value


Jobs market still weak for uni graduates

By Leith van Onselen The Productivity Commission’s recent productivity review showed that employment outcomes for full-time graduates “have been getting worse”, whereas a quarter of recent graduates believed their degrees added no value: For those who do complete their degrees, post graduation outcomes have been getting worse. Full-time employment rates for recent graduates have been declining, even


Auckland dwelling consents hit 15-year high, but housing shortage worsens

By Leith van Onselen Auckland’s chronic housing shortage continues to worsen, despite dwelling consents hitting a 15-year high, according to Statistics New Zealand. There were 1,450 dwelling consents issued across Auckland in November – a 15-year high – but still only 10,731 consents issued over the year (see below charts). Whereas for New Zealand as


Another idiotic housing affordability “solution” emerges

By Leith van Onselen Leading real estate rent-seeker, the Property Council of Australia (PCA), is pushing for another idiotic policy “solution” to fix Australia’s housing affordability woes: offering a government-backed low deposit home loan scheme. From The Australian: A government-backed low-­deposit home loan scheme could help address housing affordability by getting more buyers into the


Roy Morgan: “nearly 20% of the workforce either out of work or under-employed”

By Leith van Onselen The latest Roy Morgan Research (RMR) unemployment estimate for December registered no change in the unemployment rate over the month (still 9.8%), but the key figure is a 0.6% increase over the year, with underemployment also rising: Below are the key points from the release: The workforce is 13,410,000 comprised of


Foreign buyers try to skirt new stamp duty hikes

By Leith van Onselen In the wake of yesterday’s data from ANZ showing a sharp drop in foreign residential property sales (see chart above), as well as the hissy fit from “Highrise” Harry Triguboff, The AFR has reported that foreign buyers are attempting to skirt recent stamp duty increases by purchasing “nominated” off-the-plan apartments whose


Unlike fake federal counterparts, Tassie Greens talk sense on population policy

By Leith van Onselen Last year I labelled The Greens a fake environmental party because of their support for mass immigration and a ‘Big Australia’. My growing frustration about The Greens came about because for nearly 20 years they have failed to utter a word in protest as the federal government, under both the Coalition


Sydney home prices fall for 18th consecutive week

By Leith van Onselen The deflation of Sydney’s housing market has continued for the 18th consecutive week, with CoreLogic’s dwelling values index registering another 0.13% decline, and values down a cumulative 2.6% over that 18-week period, and dwelling values also down 2.5% over the past 23 weeks: Sydney’s quarterly growth rate continues to turn negative,


Links 12 January 2017

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: The prospects for a bitcoin ETF look dead in the water – MarketWatch This is how coal dies — super cheap renewables plus battery storage – Think Progress For New Fed Chief, Stock Boom May Bring Bubble Déjà Vu – WSJ Bond Traders Question the Bear Market – Bloomberg


7Eleven foreign worker scandal spreads to USA

By Leith van Onselen More than two years after the 7Eleven wages fraud scandal broke in Australia, the United States is undergoing a similar experience. From The Brisbane Times: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at dozens of 7-Eleven stores across the US before dawn on Wednesday to interview employees and deliver audit


iPhone X drives bounce in retail sales

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released retail sales figures for the month of November, which registered a 1.2% seasonally-adjusted jump in sales over the month, with annual sales growth bouncing back to 2.9%: However, in trend terms, annual retail sales growth fell to just 1.7% – the lowest level


NSW Premier ignored warnings negative gearing was inflating Sydney home values

By Leith van Onselen In late 2016, the Coalition erupted into civil war when NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, threw a hand grenade at the Turnbull Government’s housing policy, arguing that changes to negative gearing are necessary to make housing more affordable: “We should not be content to live in a society where it’s easy


Scott Morrison continues to push flawed company tax cut “trickle-nomics”

By Leith van Onselen Treasurer Scott Morrison has signalled that company tax cuts will be a legislative priority for the Federal Government when parliament resumes in February, citing new OECD research which concluded that across-the-board corporate tax cuts result in increased business investment and “substantial” income gains for all wage and salary earners. From The


Highrise Harry bawls as foreign property demand falls

The ANZ-Property Council Survey for the March quarter has been released, which revealed a sharp reduction in residential property sales to foreign (non-Australian resident) buyers, with everywhere but South Australia posting declines: As shown above, foreign buyers accounted for 16% of residential property sales nationally, with sales highest in VIC (21%) and NSW (18%). The


Real estate lobby calls for dedicated “property minister”

By Leith van Onselen MB often refers to Treasurer Scott Morrison as “Australia’s real estate treasurer” because of his close links with the Property Council of Australia (PCA), where he served as National Manager of Policy and Research between 1989 and 1995. We also frequently deride the Turnbull Government for its staunch defence of negative


If you want stronger wages growth, cut immigration

By Leith van Onselen Back in November, Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University, penned an excellent article in Project Syndicate which, among other things, explained why never-ending mass immigration pushes down wages growth: Standard economic theory tells us that net inward migration, like free trade, benefits the native population only after


Turnbull Government to outsource immigration ponzi

By Leith van Onselen The Turnbull Government clearly has no interest in managing Australia’s borders, nor reining-in Australia’s brake-neck population growth, with the Department of Immigration set to hand over administration of Australia’s visa system to private operators. From Proud to be Public, which is running a petition against the outsourcing: The Turnbull Government wants


Ray White still fighting the last war on negative gearing

By Leith van Onselen The chairman of Australasia’s largest property group, Ray White’s Brian White, has hit out at Treasury’s analysis of Labor’s proposed negative gearing and capital gains tax (CGT) reforms, which claimed that Labor’s policy would have a “relatively modest downward impact on property prices”, would shift the “composition of ownership… away from


Links 11 January 2017

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Growing number of cryptocurrencies spark concerns – FT In Defense of Economic Populism by Dani Rodrik – Project Syndicate Libor Manipulator Didn’t Understand Libor – Bloomberg Ethereum Price Highs Overshadow New Wave of Tech Issues – Coin Desk The Challenges of Building Ethereum Infrastructure – Medium The failure of


Morgan Stanley: Housing market to slow further in 2018

From The ABC: Australia’s housing market is set to weaken further this year, with both prices and building activity to fall, according to Morgan Stanley. The global investment banking giant has constructed a leading index to try and predict the future direction of residential building and home prices in Australia. The MSHAUS index is designed


#SardineSydney’s trains buckle again

By Leith van Onselen Last month, I reported how Sydney’s crippling immigration-fuelled population growth had pushed the rail network to breaking point, with one early morning incident causing mayhem well into the evening across the metropolitan train system. Responding to this incident, Sydney Trains boss, Howard Collins, admitted that soaring passenger demand meant the train