Unconventional Economist


Avalanche of high-rise apartments bear down on Sydney’s West

By Leith van Onselen Western Sydney is the epicentre of the city’s working class. It is a prime dumping ground for the federal government’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ program. And it has become a virtual “special economic zone” where wages can be shredded with impunity by the wealthy owners of capital living in the East.


Lawyers sound ‘death knell’ for Fair Work Commission

As we know, Aussie households are mired in an historic income recession: But it’s not enough for the Coalition, who last week stacked the board of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) with business interests, thus ensuring that it remains a ‘toothless tiger’: The Australian can reveal that Jobs and Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has ­appointed


Coalition opens new low skilled immigration rort pathway

By Leith van Onselen Let’s recall the damning indictment of Australia’s defacto low-skilled immigration system in the book entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia, which was released last month by a group of labour market academics: Official stock data indicate that the visa programmes for international students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have tripled


Australian households’ lost decade rolls on

By Leith van Onselen Australia’s production, as measured by real GDP, continues to diverge wildly from the growth (or lack thereof) in ordinary Australian’s living standards. To illustrate why, I have once again deflated three measures of the domestic economy, as provided in the June quarter national accounts (released last week), by the ABS’ population


CoreLogic: Unsold properties surge 20% in Sydney/Melbourne

CoreLogic’s weekly housing indicators continue to show broad weakness. Dwelling values have fallen heavily, led by Sydney and Melbourne: Auction clearances have crashed, again led by Sydney and Melbourne: Whereas mortgage credit remains stillborn: At the same time, listings have exploded upwards to 2012 highs as unsold ‘stale’ stock accumulates across Sydney and Melbourne; albeit


Links 11 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Sell-offs could be down to machines that control 80% of the US stock market, fund manager says – CNBC Stocks extend decline as trade woes batter sentiment – Reuters The Market’s Latest Problem: Hesitation to Buy the Dip – WSJ The Case Against Meritocracy – NY Times Coinbase abandons


Mortgage broker parasites redouble attack on Hayne reforms

By Leith van Onselen The banking royal commission interim report was scathing of mortgage broker commissions and the fact that loans written through mortgage brokers have tended to have higher leverage, more interest-only loans, higher debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios, higher interest costs and an increased likelihood that borrowers will fall into arrears. Now, Australia’s mortgage broking


NZ Labour also seeks to end negative gearing

By Leith van Onselen In the lead up to last year’s September General Election, the NZ Labour Party pledged that it would end negative gearing if it is elected. Now, the policy is nearing implementation, with The Treasury and Inland Revenue releasing a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) assessing the policy. The aim of the proposed law


Chinese tourists and students abuse Australia’s protection visas

By Leith van Onselen The great Australian immigration rort has hit a whole new level of ridiculousness today, with Chinese tourists and international students helping to drive an absurd 311% increase in asylum seeker claims. From The ABC: Key points: People claiming to be Christian, LGBTI and love children are among those seeking asylum All


Keating’s superannuation monster is out of control

By Leith van Onselen The Australian’s Judith Sloan has continued her commendable attack against Paul Keating’s compulsory superannuation monster, describing it as “one of the costliest and most ineffective retirement models in the world”: Most people think Paul Keating has four children. In fact, he has five. The fifth is compulsory superannuation: super for short…


Housing finance records dead cat bounce

By Leith van Onselen Today’s housing finance data for October, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), posted a rebound in finance commitments, with both investor and owner-occupied demand lifting. According to the ABS, the total number of owner-occupier finance commitments (excluding refinancings) rose by 2.3% in October in seasonally adjusted terms but has


Off the plan Sydney buyers sink underwater

By Leith van Onselen With Sydney unit values down 6.5% since the June 2017 peak, according to CoreLogic: Buyers that purchased off-the-plan apartments near the peak of the boom are now sinking into negative equity and settlement risk is rising: Sydneysiders who snapped up off-the-plan apartments at the peak of the property boom are now


Victorian Premier turns infrastructure gun on ScoMo

By Leith van Onselen The vertical fiscal imbalances plaguing the federation has reared its ugly head again, with Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, writing to Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanding billions of dollars in funding from the federal government to cope with unrelenting immigration-driven population growth. From The SMH: In a letter to Prime Minister Scott


The ATO fails dismally in policing illegal foreign home buyers

By Leith van Onselen A parliamentary committee into Managing Compliance with Foreign Investment Obligations for Residential Real Estate has uncovered more details about how Victoria (read Melbourne) is the nation’s hotbed for illegal foreign purchases of Australian property and how the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has failed miserably to enforce the rules precluding foreign nationals


Sydney property losses crash through 10%

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, the Sydney housing market hit an important milestone, recording a peak-to-trough decline of 10% after falling for 17 consecutive months: Already, this is the second worst housing correction experienced in Sydney over the past 40 years: It is also happening at a much faster rate than Perth’s housing correction, which


Scanlon Foundation hoisted upon own immigration petard

By Leith van Onselen I noted last week how the Scanlon Foundation’s mouthpiece, professor Andrew Markus, rubbished most recent opinion polling, from a variety of sources, supporting lower immigration into Australia, including: Australian Population Research Institute: 54% want lower immigration; Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration; Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and


Auction clearances sink deeper into the abyss

CoreLogic released its auction report yesterday, which reported another pathetically weak round of auctions, with auction clearances remaining near 2011 lows. The preliminary national auction clearance rate was just 45.3% versus 47.0% last weekend (later revised down to 41.3%). The preliminary clearance rate was also way below the 59.5% recorded in the same weekend of


Links 9 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Trump Is Gripped by Market Volatility—And His Role in It – WSJ Trump is reportedly ’glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them – CNBC Trump’s trade war has cost the S&P 10% this year, JP Morgan estimates – CNBC The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming


Weekend Reading 8-9 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Investors withdraw billions from US equity funds – FT Wild market swings hinge on a different kind of leverage – FT Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018 – NY Times The moral assumptions embedded in economic models of climate change – The Economist Deutsche


Thanks to Labor, young worker super gouge intensifies

By Leith van Onselen The Morrison Government failed to pass its bill that would have seen fees for low-balance superannuation accounts capped at 3% and exempt funds members under the age of 25 from compulsory life insurance after it failed to convince enough cross-benchers to vote for the bill. Consequently, younger workers and those with


Evaporating Chinese demand to deepen property bust

By Leith van Onselen The Foreign Investment Review Board’s 2016-17 annual report, released in May, revealed a sharp contraction in residential real estate applications from foreign buyers, driven by a halving in applications from China: This was followed in October by NAB’s quarterly property industry survey, which revealed a sharp contraction in demand from foreign buyers: Especially


UK cracks down on money laundering visas as Australia washes furiously

By Leith van Onselen The UK has cracked down on their equivalent of Special Investor Visas, halting the scheme because of fears it is being used to launder money. From BBC News: Ministers are halting a “gold-plated” visa scheme offering foreign investors a fast-track to settling in the UK, as part of a crackdown on financial


WA Government summons sub-prime first home buyers

By Leith van Onselen Earlier this year, leading real estate rent-seeker, the Property Council of Australia (PCA), pushed another idiotic policy “solution” to fix Australia’s housing affordability woes: offering a government-backed low deposit home loan scheme: A government-backed low-­deposit home loan scheme could help address housing affordability by getting more buyers into the market and


Real household disposable income also continues to fall

By Leith van Onselen The September quarter national accounts was another shocker for Australian households. According to the ABS, the real average compensation per employee fell another 0.7% in the year to September 2018 to be 4.7% lower since March 2012: Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also released real household disposable income (HDI)


Crashing sales volumes to drag house prices lower

By Leith van Onselen CoreLogic’s latest dwelling sales data was more bad news for those groups heavily reliant on property transactions, such as real estate agents and state governments (via stamp duty). It also points straight down for house prices. The next chart plots annual sales volumes across the five major markets to August 2018,


CoreLogic weekly house price update: Oh dear!

By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 6 December 2018, the CoreLogic 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, tanked another 0.36% – the biggest weekly decline of the past year: Values fell across all major markets except Adelaide: The quarterly decline has steepened to 2.3%, with Sydney,


WA economic bust gets second wind

By Leith van Onselen Western Australia’s economy appears to have taken another leg down, with yesterday’s national accounts recording a second consecutive quarterly decline in final demand, falling by 0.3% in the September quarter – the third consecutive decline: Whereas annual final demand fell by 0.8%: At the same time, Perth dwelling values have taken