Unconventional Economist


As Auckland’s house prices fall, the rest of NZ’s rises

By Leith van Onselen The REINZ has released its house price data for November, which revealed a 1.3% seasonally adjusted increase in the national median house price, with prices up 7.1% year-on-year: Outside of Auckland, seasonally adjusted house prices rose by 0.1% in November, with prices up 7.9% year-on-year. Looking at the major cities, Auckland’s


Grattan Institute’s urban infill utopia will make our cities hotter

By Leith van Onselen For years, ‘Big Australia’ booster, the Grattan Institute, has called for Australia’s supposedly underutilised middle-ring suburbs to be bulldozed for apartments and townhouses in order to house the many millions of extra migrants projected to inundate our cities over coming decades. This transformation into a dense urban form is to be


NSW births another light rail white elephant

By Leith van Onselen In the wake of the massive cost blow-outs and delays hitting both the Parramatta Light Rail Project and the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project, the NSW Auditor-General has lambasted the 2.7 kilometre light rail line in Newcastle, whose cost blew-out by 44% to $368 million and was built with a “not convincing” business


Dan Andrews jumps aboard the ‘Big Australia’ idiot train

By Leith van Onselen Of all the statements arising from Wednesday’s COAG pro-Big Australia love-in, the most idiotic has to be reserved for Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews. From The AFR: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reaffirmed his push for a large migrant intake but hinted the federal government had to do more for his state regarding


CoreLogic weekly house price update: Fugly

By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 13 December 2018, the CoreLogic 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, tanked another 0.35%: Values fell across all major markets except Adelaide: So far in December, dwelling values have fallen by 0.63%, driven by heavy losses across Sydney, Melbourne and


As credit tightens, Aussie banks binge on offshore bonds

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its National Financial Accounts for the September quarter, which revealed a 1.8% quarterly decline in Australian banks’ gross external liabilities (offshore borrowings), but a large 7.6% increase over the year. One Name Paper (-$24 billion) and Deposits (-$10 billion) drove the quarterly decline


Links 14 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Paul Volcker on Why Financial Regulation and Good Governance Are So Important – Barron’s Cash back in the spotlight as global bond yields fall – FT After the ’death cross,’ the S&P 500 seems to be forming another scary chart pattern – CNBC Central banks should not set economic


Amusing Liz Allen parody emerges on Twitter

By Leith van Onselen This is hilarious. There’s now a satirical spoof account on Twitter mocking “DrDemography“, Liz Allen. It’s called “Professor Demography” and purports to be an “environmentalist” living in Sydney’s wealthy and insulated Rose Bay: Professor Demography believes that Peter McDonald is being far too conservative and that Australia should lift its migrant


Shocked. Shocked! HIA rejects any immigration cut

By Leith van Onselen The HIA has jumped aboard Peter McDonald’s immigration propaganda releasing the following drivel lobbying against any immigration cut: Sensible heads need to prevail regarding Australia’s immigration policy said the Housing Industry Association, following COAG’s determination yesterday to make population planning and management a standing item on their agenda. “Australia needs to


7.30 Report’s “House of Cards” (Part 3) does negative gearing

By Leith van Onselen ABC 7.30 Report last night aired the final of a three part special on Australia’s budding housing bust, which is well worth watching. The episode focussed on Labor’s policy to restrict negative gearing to newly constructed dwellings and to halve the capital gains tax discount. The segment featured several commentators warning


Final auction clearance rate crashes to new low

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 large 4.3% decline in the national auction clearance rate to 41.0%, with Sydney’s auction clearance rate diving 6.8% to 41.3% and Melbourne’s falling 2.3% to just


The great privatisation con

By Leith van Onselen Fairfax’s Ross Gittins yesterday penned an excellent article lamenting the neoliberal obsession with privatisation, which is unambiguously making Australians worse-off: Many people feared that if private businesses were allowed to buy government businesses, the first thing they’d do would be to jack up their prices. Politicians and supposed experts told them


Sloan: COAG population plan a sham

By Leith van Onselen The Australian’s Judith Sloan has comprehensively demolished the business lobby’s latest “deeply misleading and self-serving” policy paper claiming “Migration works for all of us”. According to Sloan, the business lobby’s motivation is obvious: more migrants results in an increased labour supply, which in turn can put downward pressure on wages and


Canadian house prices rebound from post-GFC low

By Leith van Onselen The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index for November has been released, which shows that even though Canadian house prices fell in November, annual growth continues to bounce back from August’s post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC) low: Home values nationally declined by 0.3% in the month of November, driven by a 0.6% fall


Did the Scanlon Foundation hijack COAG’s immigration meeting?

By Leith van Onselen Professor Peter McDonald’s immigration propaganda swept yesterday’s COAG meeting on managing Australia’s population growth. From The New Daily: Officials at the talks in Adelaide claim that population expert Professor Peter McDonald “exploded” Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls for a cut to immigration… “I don’t think the Prime Minister should cut migration,” Professor


Has record dwelling construction kept pace with population growth?

By Leith van Onselen On Tuesday, the ABS has released the September quarter property data showing the total number of dwellings in each state. Although this series only dates back to September 2011, it is arguably the best data to use when assessing actual dwelling supply, since unlike the ABS’ various quarterly housing construction data


Links 13 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Yellen warns of another potential financial crisis: ’Gigantic holes in the system’ – CNBC Market Volatility Leads to Fresh Focus on Machinery Beneath Trading – WSJ Electric Cars, Solar Panels & Clean Energy Storage – Tesla Investors Bet $10 Billion Against Popular Bond ETFs – WSJ IMF warns storm


Scummo: Forget unemployed, give oldies even more money

By Leith van Onselen In recent times, a veritable conga-line of groups, representing a huge cross-section of society, have called for the federal government to lift Australia’s pathetically low Newstart Allowance for the unemployed (aka ‘Dole’), including: Deloitte Access Economics senior partner Chris Richardson; the Business Council of Australia; Former Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry; Professor


Suddenly, auction clearances no longer matter

By Leith van Onselen As auction clearance rates have crashed to 2011 lows: We are now starting to see apologists claim that auction clearances no longer matter and are now an unreliable indicator for dwelling prices. Here’s Domain’s Kate Burke: About one third of Sydney properties that fail to sell under the hammer at auction are snapped


Frank Gelber launches new ‘worst ever’ negative gearing attack

By Leith van Onselen Back in 2016, BIS Shrapnel (now BIS Oxford Economics) released possibly the worst ever piece of economic “modelling” for a “confidential client” forecasting impending doom if negative gearing is limited to new dwellings, as proposed by Labor. This farcical modelling was lambasted by numerous economists and Media Watch, and led to calls


7.30 Report’s “House of Cards” (Part 2) does the credit crackdown

By Leith van Onselen ABC 7.30 Report last night aired the second of a three part special on Australia’s budding housing bust, which is well worth watching. The episode focussed on how the credit crackdown is putting heat on buyers and developers. The episode first features several quotes about systemic mortgage fraud and loose lending:


Labor may struggle to pass tax reforms through Senate

By Leith van Onselen Labor may not have sufficient support in the Senate for its proposal to abolish cash refunds for excess dividend imputation credits if it wins the 2019 federal election. Labor would require the support of the Greens and four crossbenchers to pass the reforms before the current Senate is dissolved on 30


Master Builders Association demands bail-out as builders sink

By Leith van Onselen The Master Rent-Seekers Builders Association (MBA) is in full panic mode after a few builder collapses and has demanded governments take immediate policy action to bail-out the industry, including stamp duty exemptions for first home buyers and first home buyers grants. From The ABC: OAS Group, based in Beverley in Adelaide’s