Leith van Onselen


ABS employment in detail: Another dead cat bounce

As summarised earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released its labour force report for December, which registered a 28,900 increase in total employment and a decrease in the headline unemployment rate (from 5.2% to 5.1%). In trend terms, the unemployment rate also fell to 5.1%: Again, total employment rose by a seasonally adjusted


Australia’s water supply on a collision course with population

A new study by University of NSW scientists warns that climate change is reducing inflows into Australia’s water catchments, which will cause chronic water shortages as Australia’s population balloons: “We are looking at an average of 20 per cent reduced reliability in the future across all the catchments considered,” said Ashish Sharma, a professor at


AFG confirms mortgage market bounce

Australian Finance Group (AFG) has released its housing finance data for the December quarter, which registered a strong annual bounce in the number and value of mortgage applications. The number of mortgage applications fell by 1.9% over the December quarter but surged by 18.9% over the year, whereas the value of applications fell by 1.8%


Australia’s superannuation system a giant suckhole

Over many years, this site has shown that Australia’s compulsory superannuation system is an inefficient, costly monster that needs fundamental reform. Our critique has often been centred around the inefficient and inequitable way that superannuation concessions are distributed, which perversely gives the greatest tax concessions to those that least need it least and are least


International student deluge approaches one million

The Department of Education’s latest international student statistics, which are current to October 2019, shows a continued expansion in international student enrolments across Australia’s educational institutions. There were 918,000 international students enrolled across Australia as at October 2019, an increase of 9.8% from the same time in 2018 and up an extraordinary 83% since 2013:


Links 23 January 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Leaders at Davos doubt China and US will reach a phase 2 trade deal by end of Trump’s term – CNBC Investors Worry More About US Election Than Trade – Stock Market News The technological revolution can worsen inequality in the world – Economo The smart home of the


Retailpocalypse continues as Kaufland abandons Australia

Australia’s retail apocalypse continues, with German giant Kaufland announcing an “orderly withdrawal” from Australia despite sinking more than half a billion dollars of investment: The company had been set to open as many as 30 stores in Australia and had bought a number of warehouse and retail locations around the country… In June last year


More evidence Black Friday has slain Santa

More evidence has emerged that Black Friday dampened Christmas retail sales, with NAB’s Cashless Retail Sales Index recording an annual rise in November followed by a decline in December: Our data mapping suggests that the ABS retail trade measure will fall 0.1% m/m in December. The ABS printed a 0.9% gain in November, while we


Dan’s dodgy West Gate Tunnel besieged by scandal

The controversies surrounding the Victorian Labor Government’s $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel continue to pile up. By way of background, the project was inked in late-2017 when Premier Daniel Andrews signed a shady deal with Transurban to build the project, which would see Transurban contribute $4.4 billion towards the cost in exchange motorists paying $15


Former Liberal MP: Mass immigration trashing quality of life

Former Liberal MP and Gosford Mayor, Malcolm Brooks, has attacked Australia’s policy makers for encouraging “unchecked” population growth, claiming that it is destroying our quality of life: “Unchecked population growth will have a dramatic impact on our quality of life and our politicians seem to be oblivious to this fact,” Brooks said. “Without adequate planning


Negative equity plagues Melbourne house and land buyers

Over 2018 and early 2019, there were regular reports of house and land buyers across Melbourne tumbling into negative equity, resulting in buyers defaulting on thousands of sales contracts. The below article, published in March 2019, encapsulated the issue that was developing: Melbourne, which has been by far the hottest new property market, is facing


Retail funds’ decade of superannuation underperformance

New data released by Chant West shows that industry superannuation funds easily outperformed their retail counterparts over the last decade: As shown above, the top 10 best performing superannuation funds over the decade were all industry funds, easily beating the average return of 7.9% per annum. The reason for retail funds’ underperformance likely relates to


Video streaming services present NBN timebomb

18 months ago, NBN chief Bill Morrow blamed online gamers for creating congestion on the National Broadband Network (NBN) network: NBN Co is “evaluating” slowing down or limiting downloads for users during peak times in order to overcome these fixed wireless congestion problems. At a parliamentary hearing in Sydney this afternoon, NBN Co chief executive


It’s time to abolish costly parental visas

In its 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report, the Productivity Commission (PC) estimated that the circa 9,000 elderly permanent parental visas granted every year cost Australian taxpayers between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms, or between $335 000 and $410 000 per elderly adult, with the cost rising over time as numbers increase.


Chinese international student bust risks “economic calamity”

Chen Hong – professor and director of Australian Studies Center, East China Normal University – has written a stern article in the Global Times (the Chinese Communist Party’s nationalistic tabloid) attacking delays in visa processing times for Chinese students and warning Australia that any “significant decline in Chinese students would indeed bring about economic calamity”:


Links 22 January 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investment: The world’s 2,153 billionaires are richer than 4.6 billion people combined – Business Insider Boeing is in talks to borrow $10 billion or more as 737 Max crisis wears on – CNBC One Well Paid Scapegoat: Boeing’s Ousted CEO Receives No Severance—But $80 Million in ‘Pre-Existing Benefits’ – Observer


Preasure builds on SmoCo for “generous investment allowance”

Australian Industry Group (AIG) chief, Innes Willox, has called on the Morrison Government to implement a Labor-style investment allowance to spur business investment: …we propose the introduction of a generous investment allowance to bring forward and increase business investment. It would allow businesses to deduct for tax purposes a larger proportion of their expenditure on


Vancouver house prices climb off bottom

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index for December has been released, which shows that Canadian house prices rose by 0.2% across the 11 major markets, with annual growth improving to 2.0%: After falling for 14 straight months, Vancouver house prices have bottomed, rising by 0.6% since their trough in September 2019 However, Vancouver’s house prices


Hail storms to rescue new car sales

Car dealerships have endured a nightmare 18 months, with new car sales collapsing to the lowest level since 2012, according to the latest data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI): However, the hail storms that have ripped through Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and South East Queensland over the past week could prove an unlikely


Sydney Light Rail: A $2.9b slow tram to nowhere

Sydney’s $2.9 billion Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project is a textbook example of Australia’s infrastructure failure. In 2018, the former head of Infrastructure NSW, Paul Broad, in described the project as a waste of money and a vanity project that should have never been started. This was immediately followed by a secret report prepared by


Roy Morgan underemployment surges

The latest Roy Morgan Research (RMR) unemployment estimate for December softened, rising by 0.6% over the month to 8.7%: However, over the year, unemployment fell by 1.0%. Underemployment surged by 1.9% over the month and by 1.1% over the year, with labour underutilisation tracking at 18.6% (up from 0.1% from a year ago): Below are


Business confidence ends 2019 in the toilet

Business confidence ended 2019 on a sour note, with Roy Morgan’s latest monthly business confidence index crashing to an eight-month low amid concerns surrounding the Australian economy: In December 2019 Roy Morgan Business Confidence dropped 3.9pts (-3.6%) to an eight-month low of 104.5. Declining sentiment about the performance of the Australian economy over the next


NSW moves too late on dodgy high-rise builders

After experiencing an unprecedented boom in high-rise apartment construction over the past decade: And with flammable cladding and structural faults proliferating across Sydney, the NSW Government has finally taken action by giving the NSW Building Commissioner the power to block dodgy developers from building high-rise: Designed to prevent repeats of the Opal and Mascot Towers


India becomes prime international student growth market

In 2019, India emerged as Australia’s prime international student growth market. As shown in the next chart, whose data comes from the Department of Education, new student enrolments from India surged by 35% in 2019, from 44,900 to 60,700: While China still remained Australia’s biggest source of international students, new enrolments from China actually declined


Links 21 January 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Global digital money transfer transactions to reach 2 billion by 2024 – IT News Global Financial Crisis Can Be Triggered By The Trade War – Daily Billboard Global Economic Growth Is The Lowest In A Decade: Why Is Wall Street Racing To The Moon?  – Forbes Americas: There are