Unconventional Economist


Choice calls for Health Star Ratings overhaul

Over recent years, I have called for an overhaul of Australia’s dietary guidelines, including Australia’s Health Star Rating System, which has too often ignored the prevalence of sugar while demonising natural saturated fats. I have also criticised Australian dieticians’ staunch defence of existing failed dietary guidelines that promote a high carbohydrate / low fat diet.


Late payments are costing the economy billions

Andrew Charlton from AlphaBeta has released a new report examining the cost of late payments to Australian businesses and the wider economy. The key findings are as follows: There’s plenty of evidence that late payments hurt cashflow, employment and wages for small businesses internationally. But there has been little data to truly quantify these costs


“Generational injustice” is no myth

The Australian’s Judith Sloan has penned an article today attacking claims of “generational injustice”: Intergenerational injustice is a myth… what do we mean by intergenerational injustice? The Grattan view is that people on the same income should be taxed in exactly the same way irrespective of their age. It doesn’t matter to the researchers that


Coalition to scrap “immoral” 12% compulsory super increase

The Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Janet Hume, has given the strongest indication yet that the Coalition will scrap the legislated increase in the superannuation guarantee (compulsory super) to 12%, as well as make superannuation contributions voluntary for those aged under 25. From The SMH: Jane Hume urged warring industry and retail funds to “lay down


Housing bust drives new car sales off cliff

Australia’s housing bust has driven the biggest fall in new car sales in nine years, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI): Sales of new cars in Australia have fallen for 14 consecutive months… “You’ve got the election, you’ve had a negative impact on lending as a result of the royal commission and you’ve


NSW Government too late the hero on highrise slum towers

Things have gone from bad to worse for residents of Sydney’s Mascot Tower. After the building was evacuated two weekends ago amid serious structural cracking, engineers have reported that the building is “moving in downward motion”. From SBS News: Mascot Towers’ coordinating engineer has now identified a new issue along the northern and eastern boundaries


Australia’s skilled migrant visa system rorted

For well over a decade, Australia’s business lobby has argued that a strong intake of skilled migrants is required to overcome perceived chronic shortages in the labour market. However, the data has never supported this assertion. First, the Productivity Commission’s (PC) 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report showed that while the majority (two-thirds) of Australia’s


Links 25 June 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing How single family zoning makes cities financially fragile – Strong Towns Oil prices climb as Middle East tensions simmer – Reuters Solar Energy Has Record Start to 2019 – Fool Artificial intelligence and the threat of diminishing returns – Forbes Americas: How single family zoning makes cities financially fragile


Productivity Commission: Dump stamp duties for land taxes

Former Productivity Commission chairman Peter Harris says the federal government should consider adopting key recommendations in the ‘Shifting The Dial’ report, which the Commission released in 2017. In particular, he has called for state governments to phase out stamp duties on property transactions in favour of a land tax, arguing that this would help to


NSW Government plans slum future for Sydney

The NSW Government wants to accelerate approvals for higher density developments across Sydney’s ‘missing middle’ suburbs by making it easy to subdivide blocks. Specifically, the government wants to give developers the ability to build without lodging a development application and without having to notify neighbours. From The ABC: Sydney’s population is expected to swell to


Everyone but cruel Coalition wants Newstart lifted

By Leith van Onselen When it comes to cruelty against the unemployed, it’s hard to top the Morrison Government. As the Budget heads back towards surplus, and with the Government pledging tens-of-billions of dollars for tax cuts, it refuses to lift Australia’s Newstart Allowance, which is about to fall to 30% below the poverty line:


Transurban moves one step closer to becoming “meta-monopoly”

While residents of Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from crush-loaded roads, trains, schools, and hospitals, as well as smaller and more expensive housing, toll road company Transurban is making out like a bandit. Earlier this year, ABC News reported that Sydney’s toll road network is the most expensive and extensive in the world : …transport


Faults proliferate across Australia’s high-rise apartments

Over the past 15-years, Australia experienced an unprecedented construction boom, which has seen high-rise apartment complexes mushroom across Australia’s major cities: Over recent years, it has become apparent that many of these apartments likely carry some type of structural fault – be it flammable cladding, cracking or problems with water-proofing and mould – which has


Auction clearances retrace from 14-month high

CoreLogic has released its preliminary auction report, which reported a small retracement in the national clearance rate from last week’s 14-month high. The preliminary national auction clearance rate was 63.7%, down from last week’s preliminary clearance rate of 66.4%, but well above the 55.5% final clearance rate recorded in the same weekend of last year:


International students turn universities into blood sucking corporations

Last week, Australia’s media triumphantly reported that seven of Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities were ranked in the top 100 of universities globally. However, these strong rankings came amid a surge of international students, which has driven a significant rise in the ratio of students to teachers: Australian universities have bucked a declining trend


Links 24 June 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: The Petrodollar, American Imperialism, Domestic Inequality, and their Oncoming Collapse – Medium Artificial intelligence and the threat of diminishing returns – Forbes Predicting Economic Outcomes with MMT & Minsky – YouTube The Future Is Blockchain: Untraceable Brings Back the Blockchain Futurist Conference – Medium Facebook removed from S&P list


Weekend Reading: 22-23 June 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: $12 trillion of negative-yielding bonds are sending a clear message of distress – QZ Deutsche Bank Under Investigation for ‘Potential Money-Laundering Lapses’ – Daily Beast Growth in Global Financial Wealth Screeched to a Halt in 2018 – Bloomberg More spent on S&P 500 buybacks than all 2018 R&D –


Vancouver house prices continue to fall

By Leith van Onselen The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index for May has been released, which shows that Canadian house prices rose by 0.5% across the 11 major markets, with annual growth falling to 0.7%: Across the three major markets, values fell by 0.2% in Vancouver in May, but rose by 0.7% in Toronto and


Coalition backs away from 12% compulsory super increase

By Leith van Onselen The Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Janet Hume, says providing better outcomes for superannuation savers is her most important priority. With a rise in the superannuation guarantee from 9.5% to 12% having been legislated but not implemented, Hume says the federal government has a “moral obligation” to ensure that the super system


Australia’s mass immigration economy is wrecking productivity

By Leith van Onselen The federal Treasury’s deputy secretary Meghan Quinn says Australian resources companies have been more effective in the use of new technologies to boost labour productivity than other sectors of the economy. She has told an OECD productivity forum that Treasury’s analysis suggests that non-mining sectors could lift productivity by 6% if


ACT launches first home buyer subsidy

By Leith van Onselen From 1 July 2019, the ACT Government will abolish stamp duty for first home buyers (FHBs) earning under $160,000. This policy will effectively extend the existing scheme by extending concessions from new homes only to  established dwellings and vacant land. Moreover, it will replace the existing $7,000 FHB grant. With the


Manufacturing jobs plummet to record low

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released its quarterly labour force report, which breaks-down employment at the industry level to May 2019. Below are some key charts, which present the changes in employment aggregates on a trend basis. First, the quarterly change in employment by industry: Next, the annual employment


International students face tougher English language requirements

At the beginning of the year, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wrote a letter to the National Tertiary Education Union promising to demand a federal government review of university English-language requirements amid concerns that many international students were struggling to participate in class and complete assignments, as well as placing undue strain on teaching staff: “International


Links 21 June 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Deutsche Bank Under Investigation for ‘Potential Money-Laundering Lapses’ – Daily Beast More spent on S&P 500 buybacks than all 2018 R&D – Axios Trump Moves From Trade War Toward Currency War – Bloomberg The World Now Has Three People Worth More Than $100 Billion Each – Bloomberg Asia stocks


Final auction clearance rate highest in 13 months

By Leith van Onselen Last weekend, CoreLogic released its preliminary auction clearance rates, which revealed the following results: Today, CoreLogic has released its final auction results, which reported a 4.6% decline in the final national auction clearance rate to 61.8% – well above the same weekend last year (52.4%) and way above last week’s 48.3%: