Unconventional Economist


Chinese question value of an Australian university education

By Leith van Onselen It seems Australia’s latest export growth industry – selling university degrees to international students – is under threat as the Chinese realise they are being short-changed. From The Brisbane Times: The plight of a Chinese student whose parents sold their home to pay for an Australian university education but only found


The solution to population ageing is better labour utilisation

By Leith van Onselen For years the growth lobby has argued that Australia needs to run high levels of immigration in order to alleviate so-called skills shortages and to mitigate an ageing population, despite the Department of Employment showing that Australia’s skills shortage “remains low by historical standards” and Australia’s labour underutilisation rate tracking at


NZ Prime Minister fails badly in housing defence

By Leith van Onselen With the New Zealand National Government’s single-minded focus on solving Auckland’s housing crisis by boosting supply failing dismally, and it facing possible election defeat as the nation hits the polls on Saturday, Prime Minister Bill English has defended the Government’s housing record. From Interest.co.nz: Prime Minister Bill English has defended his


Links 21 September 2017

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Government spending (% GDP) – Our World in Data Hidden cracks are forming in the record-breaking stock market – Business Insider Google’s AI Boss Blasts Musk’s Scare Tactics on Machine Takeover – Bloomberg Flattest Curve in Developed World Tells the Bond Market’s Tale – Bloomberg The price of bitcoin


How exposed is Melbourne to the next drought?

By Leith van Onselen A decade ago, Melbourne was gripped in drought. Water storages had fallen to below 30% and widespread water restrictions were in place across the city: Several years of strong rainfall followed and today Melbourne’s dam storages sit at a healthier 69%. However, today The ABC reports that Southern Australia is getting


Tiny homes are no genuine affordability cure

By Leith van Onselen Heather Shearer, a research fellow at Griffith University’s Cities Research Centre, is the latest to jump on the Tiny Houses fad, claiming they represent a solution to Australia’s housing affordability crisis. From The Conversation: Tiny houses are now so popular that someone was charged with stealing one last week… My research


Australia retains silver medal in global household debt

By Leith van Onselen Australia has again taken the silver medal for having the world’s second most indebted households according to the latest data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The next table shows the ratios of household debt to GDP as at the March quarter of 2017. As you can see, Switzerland (129%)


More evidence record dwelling construction hasn’t outrun population ponzi

By Leith van Onselen In this week’s SQM Research rental vacancies report, managing director Louis Christopher noted how rental supply would remain under pressure despite the recent record high dwelling construction levels: “Overall the current rental market is a moderate landlord’s market. There is nothing in our numbers to suggest the market is about to


Richard Denniss: Immigration policy must reflect per capita impacts

By Leith van Onselen The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, has posted his second The Lucky Country podcast, which contained an interesting discussion on mass immigration and its impact on living standards: Listener question: “I’ve heard arguments that letting refugees into Australia will actually help our economy as more people would mean there’s more


Links 20 September 2017

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: What The World Thinks Of Trump – Five Thirty Eight An empirical analysis of peer-to-peer lending – VOX Fed’s balance-sheet unwind will be moment of truth for financial markets – MarketWatch BIS Hunts for ‘Missing’ Global Debt, Inflation – WSJ What Jamie Dimon Got Wrong About Bitcoin and Tulips


Wage suppression a time bomb for superannuation system

By Leith van Onselen The Australia Institute (TAI) has produced an interesting report warning that record low wages growth could significantly curtail Australian’s superannuation retirement savings, placing immense pressure on the Federal Budget. Below is the summary of the report along with some key charts: The record-slow pace of wage growth in Australia’s economy is


ABS: Sydney, Melbourne drove property prices up 1.9% in Q2

By Leith van Onselen The ABS has today released its property price index – incorporating both detached houses and units – which registered a 1.9% rise in home values nationally over the June quarter and a 10.2% gain over the year, exactly the same as the 10.2% annual growth initially reported in the year to


Health experts’ flawed call for mandatory health-star ratings

By Leith van Onselen Thirty-five health organisations have united to put an eight-pronged action plan to the Federal Government, which includes a 20% tax on sugary beverages. From The ABC: Obesity Policy Coalition [OPC] executive manager Jane Martin said obesity was having a dire effect on the nation’s physical and economic wellbeing. “We have a


Our universities have become money grubbing ‘degree factories’

By Leith van Onselen Fairfax’s Ross Gittins delivered the goods again yesterday with a stinging take down of Australia’s “aimless, money-grubbing exploiting” universities: Of the many stuff-ups during the now-finished era of economic reform, one of the worst is the unending backdoor privatisation of Australia’s universities, which began under the Hawke-Keating government and continues in


SQM: Record dwelling construction can’t outrun population ponzi

SQM Research has released its rental vacancy series for July, which revealed a 0.1% fall in the national vacancy rate over the month as well as a 0.1% decline over the year: As shown above, rental vacancies fell or were flat rose across all capitals in August. Over the year, decreases in vacancies were recorded


NZ Labour schools Australian Labor on immigration

By Leith van Onselen In the lead-up to this Saturday’s New Zealand General Election, the Labour opposition has continually taken aim at New Zealand’s excessive immigration program, which Labour claims is choking housing, infrastructure and public services in Auckland, as well as undercutting working conditions. The Economist has published an interesting profile on Labour’s leader,