Leith van Onselen


Overseas arrivals near zero in June

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released preliminary overseas travel data for June, which predictably shows that arrivals have collapsed by 98% from pre-COVID levels: The collapse is evident across all nationalities: Across all visa classes: And across all jurisdictions: This is the new normal so long as COVID-19 ravages the world.


COVID-19 will drive decentralisation

COVID-19 has reportedly driven a surge of interest from Melburnians seeking to relocate to regional Victoria: Agents are reporting that Melbourne buyers have tripled in some regional areas… For those couples, families and even downsizers who’ve had a city escape on their radar, the latest lockdown has precipitated a wave of fresh inquiry, in addition


Australia’s $90b submarine farce

Back in May, the Department of Defence told a Senate estimates hearing that Australia’s new submarine fleet is expected to cost $90 billion, a 12% increase on the previous estimate of $80 billion in November. The Australian’s Robert Gottliebsen has today slammed the submarines program, arguing that the Defence Department has been ‘captured’. According to


HomeBuilder a successful dud

Australia’s building lobby has hailed the Morrison Government’s $688 million HomeBuilder subsidy for new dwelling construction the “most effective stimulus in a decade”: The Master Builders Association has reported that in the past four weeks, activity in the sector had returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, saying the package had delivered the “most effective stimulus in decades”.


NZ house prices rocket as it goes COVID free

With New Zealand eliminating COVID-19, its housing market has experienced a sharp bounce. The median house prices across New Zealand increased by a seasonally adjusted 3.8% in the month of June and by 10.1% year-on-year: It was the 105th consecutive month of year-on-year price increases. The REINZ is triumphant: Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ


CoreLogic: June quarter a shocker for nation’s auction markets

Corelogic has released its June quarter auction market report, which reported a sharp fall in clearance rates and volumes owing to the COVID-19 lockdowns: Auction volumes were down over the June quarter which is not surprising given the uncertainties around COVID-19 and tightened restrictions banning on-site auctions which came into effect at midnight on March


Payroll jobs still 5.7% below pre-COVID levels

The ABS has released its Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages survey, which reveals that total payroll jobs at the end of June remained 5.7% below mid-March when Australia recorded its 100th COVID-19 case. Total wages, which have been bolstered by emergency income support, have also fallen by 3.2%. However, job numbers have rebounded 3.3% from


Victoria records another 270 COVID-19 infections

Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak remains out of control, with another 270 cases recorded today: NSW recorded 13 new cases, down slightly from 14 yesterday. There are now 1,803 active COVID-19 cases in Victoria, 97% of the nation’s total: 4224 cases have now been recorded in Victoria, with the curve looking rather scary: The nightmare continues.


Anatomy of a hotel quarantine disaster

Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, confirmed over the weekend that Melbourne’s new COVID-19 clusters have different origins to the first wave and have been imported from overseas via failed hotel quarantine: The first case of a security guard working in a quarantine hotel being infected was reported on May 27, at a similar time


Josh Frydenberg: Australia’s real unemployment rate is 13.3%

Yesterday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged that Australia’s real unemployment rate is 13.3%, almost double the official figure of 7.1%: JOURNALIST: Treasurer, Andrew Probyn here from the ABC. Could you take us through the actual unemployment rate? You alluded to this morning, rather than it being 7.1 or thereabouts, the actual number is much, much higher


Pavlou vows Supreme Court fight after losing UQ suspension appeal

Late yesterday, Drew Pavlou lost his appeal against a suspension from the University of Queensland (UQ) over criticising the university’s deep links to China. UQ’s senate discipline appeals committee announced that it would uphold its decision, despite finding Pavlou not guilty on 13 of 18 allegations. However, it reduced his suspension from two years to


Charting the international student crash

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released short-term travel data, which showed that arrivals of international students collapsed to only 60 in May versus 28,090 in the same month last year: In rolling annual terms, student arrivals collapsed by 121,220 (18%) from their January 2020 high: Separate data from the Department of Education also


Why mortgage volumes are about to rebound

As reported yesterday, the value of new mortgages issued collapsed by nearly 12% May, driven by a sharp 16% fall in investor mortgages: This was the sharpest monthly decline in new mortgage commitments in the 18 year history of the series. Given historical experience, the decline in new mortgage commitments points to Australian dwelling values


Links 14 July 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Global Electronic Waste Up 21 Percent in Five Years — Little of It Is Recycled – Truthout IMF: Government support for companies should be based on capital, not debt – Economic Daily OPEC and allies set to ease oil output cuts, anticipating demand recovery – Market Watch The recent


Why you should fear COVID-19

Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, an epidemiologist working in chronic disease in Sydney’s west, has penned an article warning against complacency surrounding COVID-19. Meyerowitz-Katz claims there is a widely-held misconception that since only about 1% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 will die, the other 99% of the world’s population does not have to worry too much about the


CBA: Australia to recover 170k jobs in June

With June’s ABS labour market data due for release on Thursday, CBA head of Australian economics, Gareth Aird, forecasts that Australia’s unemployment rate will rise to 7.6% despite a 170,000 rebound in jobs: We expect employment to rise by 170k in June. We expect the unemployment rate to lift to 7.6% on a 1.1ppt rise


Universities wasted international student boom on bloated bureaucracies

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings indicate the Australian National University (ANU) is the only Australian university with a student to staff ratio of under 20 at 17.8. Professor William Locke from the Melbourne Centre for Higher Education at the University of Melbourne notes that Melbourne is one of five Australian universities that has


CBA: Travel restrictions no disaster for Aussie economy

Gareth Aird, head of Australian economics at CBA, has released research showing that the impact of international travel restrictions on the Australian economy are not as bad as commonly feared: Key Points: Both tourism exports and imports have collapsed due to international border closures, but education exports remain buoyant. The overall impact of border closures


Inflation expectations plunge to new record low

From Roy Morgan Research: In June Australians expected inflation of 3.2% annually over the next two years. This result signified a new record low for the index – down 0.1% points on May and a significant 0.8% points on the pre-COVID period of February 2020. Inflation Expectations have declined around the nation, however the magnitude


Panic engulfs leaders as vacant offices hulk across Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD is in crisis as COVID-19 and the shift to working from home (WFH) has collapsed visitor numbers by an estimated 95%. This has left office buildings empty and gutted surrounding businesses reliant on the people flow. With business leaders and the Melbourne City Council concerned that WFH could become permanent, they have devised


Melbourne records another 177 COVID-19 cases

It’s another sombre day down here in Melbourne, with Victoria recording 177 new COVID-19 infections, which comes on top of more than 500 new cases recorded over the weekend: NSW infections are also rising with another 14 cases recorded. There are now 1,484 active COVID-19 cases recorded in Victoria, 97% of the nation’s total: The


One-third of property investor mortgages in danger of default

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) released some alarming data late last week on mortgage deferrals. According to APRA, $192 billion of mortgages have been deferred by authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs), comprising 11% of all housing loans: Worse, more than one-third of investor mortgages have been deferred, a large proportion of which are interest-only: As


Mortgage crash signals property price falls

Last week’s mortgage commitments data for May from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed a brutal 11.6% decline, led by a precipitous 15.6% fall in investor mortgages: The following charts plot this data against CoreLogic’s dwelling values index for June. These charts provide a useful guide to short-term price movements for the market, given


Hong Kong visas won’t save Australian property

With immigration into Australia forecast by the federal government to collapse by 85% in the two years from 2019 because of COVID-19, there was some hoping that immigration could be rebooted by granting massive numbers of visas to Hong Kongers wishing to flee Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tyranny. Others, like William Bourke from the Sustainable


Auction market holds up amid Melbourne lockdown

CoreLogic’s preliminary auction report reported only a moderate fall in the preliminary clearance rate (from 65.1% to 62.2%) off softer volumes: According to CoreLogic: In Sydney, 538 homes were scheduled for auction this week, down from 580 over the previous week, although higher than one year ago when 316 homes were taken to auction across


Links 13 July 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: The World Is Drinking Less Coffee While Office Workers Stay Home – Bloomberg Sustainable-investing flows have smashed records in 2020. What’s going on? – Market Watch Elon Musk just surged past Warren Buffett on the list of the world’s richest people – Forbes Teleworking is Not Working for the


Weekend Reading 11-12 July 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: IMF’s chief economist urges ‘equity-like’ governments support for virus-hit firms – Reuters The World Can Show How Pharma Monopolies Aren’t the Only Way to Fight COVID-19 – Counter Punch When Low Yields Can Be a Good Deal for Investors – Barrons Americas: Around 1.3 million people filed for first-time


Westpac: Looming downside risks for US economy

By Westpac’s Elliot Clarke: Currently, the US economy finds itself between fiercely opposing forces. On the one hand is the rapid surge in jobs seen during May and June and the consequent swelling of recovery expectations. Opposing these forces however is the dramatic increase in the COVID-19 new case count this month to worrying new