Unconventional Economist


Chip shortages hammer new car sales

Australian new car sales dived 8.1% year-on-year in November on the back of the supply disruptions, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). Only 80,639 new cars were sold in November compared with 95,205 in November 2020 and 84,708 in November 2019. The next chart plots new car sales in rolling annual terms


Briefing: Australia’s skilled migrant shortage is a sham

Below is a briefing note that I prepared for Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), which is a non-partisan, special advocacy group that seeks to establish an ecologically sustainable human population. Is there a shortage of skilled workers? Summary Recently there have been calls for a large increase in the skilled migrant intake as borders reopen. This


Links 6 December 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Why a four day week could be the future of work – Redaction Politics How Our Online Shopping Obsession Choked the Supply Chain – GQ Being single and living alone is incredibly expensive – VOX BTC Surpasses PayPal in Terms of USD Transactions Volume – Forex Review Oil Prices


Weekend Reading: 4-5 December 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: CEOs across the market, economy agree on one 2022 prediction: More volatility, no end to Covid – CNBC If You Think the Great Resignation Is Bad, Just Wait Until January – INC Virtual Land in the Metaverse Is Selling for Millions of Dollars – Singularity Hub What the Omicron


Auctions deluge continues to flood property market

Australia’s auction market continued to fatigue after a record week of listings: Last weekend’s final auction clearance rate was 68.5%, down from 70.3% the prior weekend off 4,251 auctions (up from 3,720 the prior weekend): As noted by CoreLogic: This week saw Canberra, Adelaide and the combined capital cities all recording their busiest auction weeks


Sydney’s housing market is truly bananas

Previously I have published data showing that Sydney house prices are trading at close to all-time highs relative to the other capital cities: Now Cameron Kusher has posted similar data on Twitter showing how Sydney house prices are tracking against the other major capitals. According to Kusher, “in 2007 median house prices in Sydney and


Half of migrant engineers unemployed despite “shortages”

MB has long argued that Australia’s skilled visa program is poorly targeted with the majority of visas granted to professions experiencing an oversupply of workers. According to the federal government’s own historical skills shortage data, engineering has not been in shortage. Yet, the federal government has kept engineers on the skills shortage list, thereby ensuring


Company profits ride the stimulus wave

Wednesday’s national accounts release for the September quarter posted another 4.2% quarter-on-quarter increase in company profits, which hit a fresh record annual high of $579 billion: By comparison, total compensation of employees only rose by 0.5% over the quarter. The divergence between workers and bosses since the pandemic began is stark and illustrated in the


CoreLogic weekly house price update: Two-speed

In the week ended 2 December, the CoreLogic daily dwelling values index increased another 0.20%: All major markets except Perth recorded rising values, again led by Brisbane and Adelaide: Quarterly price growth remains strong but slowing at 3.91% across the five major capitals. Brisbane (7.43%) and Adelaide (6.53) lead the way, followed Sydney (4.31%), Melbourne


Links 3 December 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Powell Weighs Earlier End to Bond Tapering Amid Hot Inflation – Bloomberg Elon Musk reportedly said SpaceX faces the ‘risk of bankruptcy’ from a lack of Starship engine progress – Yahoo These are the world’s most expensive cities – Aljazeera Amazon funds its empire by squeezing its marketplace sellers


Australia: Home of wage-crushing immigration

A new report from the Migrant Workers Centre claims that 65% of temporary visa holders have experienced wage theft: Based on interviews with 700 temporary visa holders in Australia, the report – released this week – found a clear link between workplace exploitation and temporary visa status… The report revealed many migrants were encouraged to


HomeBuilder lines land developers’ pockets

When the Morrison Government’s HomeBuilder subsidy was announced last year, I argued that land developers would be the major beneficiaries since they would be able to inflate the cost of their house-and-land packages, while also clearing their inventory. Shortly afterwards, we witnessed developers mark-up the cost of house-and-land packages by the amount of the grant,


Jacinda Ardern backs up immigration dump truck

Back in May, New Zealand’s Ardern Government vowed to end low-skilled, wage crushing migration via a “once-in-a generation” reset for New Zealand’s immigration system. It flagged a significantly smaller migration intake post-Covid that focuses on highly skilled, highly paid and productive migrants that fill genuine skills shortages. This means abolishing the current low-skilled system, which has


Investor mortgage boom crowds out first home buyers

The Australian mortgage market fell again in October, according to new data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The total value of new mortgage commitments fell by a seasonally adjusted 2.5% in October 2021 to be up 32.2% year-on-year: As shown above, owner-occupiers had driven mortgage demand this cycle, whereas investor demand


Highrise Harry chokes supply to drive up profits

If you want bonafide evidence that property developers manipulate the market to ration supply and maximise their profits, look no further than ‘Highrise’ Harry Triguboff’s testimony today in The Australian: Harry Triguboff, Australia’s richest property developer, will make $400m from building and keeping apartments for investment this year… The documents showed a 15 per cent


Melbourne @9 million is a Bladerunner set

The Herald-Sun has published a spruik piece on how Melbourne’s suburbs will enjoy a “jobs and high-rise population boom” following the construction of the Suburban Rail Loop: The Suburban Rail Loop project linking middle-ring suburbs will spark a jobs and high-rise population boom, helping to ease Melbourne’s “unsustainable” urban sprawl. Suburbs such as Cheltenham, Glen


AFR fails dismally in ‘Big Australia’ immigration defence

The AFR View has taken a shot at critics of a ‘Big Australia’ (yours truly). Below are the The AFR’s key arguments alongside my rebuttal: Critics of a “big Australia” tend to dismiss such calls to reboot the nation’s immigration program as quickly as possible as simply returning to some population Ponzi scheme that benefits


Aussie households are bulging with savings

Yesterday’s national accounts for the September quarter showed that Australian households are bulging with savings. The hard lockdowns experienced across NSW, Victoria and the ACT over Q3 prevented households from spending at the same time as billions of dollars of additional income support was provided to households (chart from Deloitte): The inevitable result was that


Links 2 December 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Fed Chairman Jerome Powell warns Congress that inflation may keep rising next year – CBS Coronavirus pandemic could cost global tourism $2 trillion this year – UN News Fattest Profits Since 1950 Debunk Wage-Inflation Story of CEOs – Bloomberg Dow skids nearly 600 points and stock market’s losses deepen


Just when you thought Australia’s property market was mad

Spare a thought for New Zealand, where CoreLogic today recorded 1.8% growth in November, with values up an extraordinary 28.4% year-on-year: The average property value in New Zealand is now an eye-watering $978,401, with Auckland ($1,402,845) and Wellington ($1,114,979) both topping one million dollars. Over the year to the end of November, the average value


COVID runs riot across Europe

Europe is scrambling to regain control over a resurgent COVID as Christmas approaches, even in countries with high vaccination rates. Despite generally high rates of vaccination: COVID cases across Europe have surged to record highs: With even highly vaccinated nations like Belgium, Netherland and Ireland experiencing an explosion of cases: The data on hospitalisations is


The Great Resignation arrives in Australia

A new report from Findex suggests “The Great Resignation” has arrived in Australia with one quarter of SMEs experiencing higher than usual staff turnover: The Great Resignation is “no longer looming but very much here”, according to new data from financial services firm Findex which has found one in four SMEs are already experiencing a


Rental growth strong again in November

CoreLogic has released rental data for November, with rental growth continuing at its strongest pace since 2008: The trend in rental growth has held reasonably firm since April, with the monthly change in national rents holding between 0.6% and 0.7%, well above the decade average monthly movement of 0.2%. Every capital city and rest-of-state region