Unconventional Economist


Auction market locked firmly in red zone

CoreLogic has released its preliminary auction results for the weekend, with the preliminary clearance rate again coming in above 80%, with almost every market showing strength. The national preliminary clearance rate was 81.9%, up from a final clearance rate of 73.9% in the same weekend last year. Australia’s second biggest auction market, Sydney, again led


The mortgage market has never been hotter

The Australian mortgage market has continued its record run, according to new data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Total mortgage commitments (excluding refinancings) rose another 10.5% in January to be up a whopping 44.3% year-on-year. This growth was driven by owner-occupiers, where mortgage commitments rose by 10.9% over the month to


Is the Coalition the party of low wage growth?

The Guardian’s Greg Jericho has posted an article claiming that the Liberal’s economic agenda is built around “lower taxes for companies and the wealthy, and lower wages for everyone else”. Jericho’s thinking goes like this: The Morrison Government has refused to lift JobSeeker to a subsistence level; It has introduced a new hotline for employers


Chinese property buyers are gone!

One interesting aspect of the current boom in Australian property prices is the absence of overseas buyers, especially Chinese. During the 2013 to 2015 house price cycle, Chinese buyers made up a significant proportion of demand, especially across Sydney and Melbourne. However, over the past several years, this demand has waned, as illustrated by the


Tudge: Universities must wean off international students

International students have accounted for around 25% of Australian universities’ revenue in recent years. Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge used a speech on Friday to argue that this business model is unsustainable in the post-pandemic environment, and that COVID-19 has given the nation’s universities an opportunity to shift their focus to educating Australians: “These disruptions


Links 1 March 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: McKinsey suffers from collective self-delusion – The Economist Oil Update: The US, China and COVID-19 – Capital IOM 10 Ways Retirement Has Changed Over the Past Decade – Money Age Banding To Model The Decline In Retirement Spending – Kitces Chart o’ the Day: Who Owns The Stock Market?


Weekend Reading: 27-28 February 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: The Four-Day Work Week Is The Future Of Work. Microsoft has just proven this if necessary. – Medium How Poverty Makes Workers Less Productive – NPR US stocks tumble on inflation worries, S&P 500 down 2.5% – Straits Times Goldman Sachs’ boss wants bankers back to their desks ASAP


CBA: APRA won’t tighten mortgage screws in 2021

Today’s credit aggregates data from the Reserve Bank of Australia reported an acceleration of mortgage growth; although it remained soft on a historical basis. CBA’s head of Australian economics, Gareth Aird, expects housing credit to remain low, eliminating the need for the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) to tighten macro-prudential curbs on mortgages: We expect


SEQ on track to land 2032 Olympics

Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) named South East Queensland (SEQ) as its preferred host for the 2032 Olympic Games. It is believed the IOC could formally award SEQ the games as early as July. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the IOC is impressed that it already has up to 90% of the needed


QLD plays hard ball on hotel quarantine

Last month, the Queensland Government hatched a plan to shift quarantine from Brisbane hotels to a regional mining camps in Gladstone and Toowoomba. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stupidly scuttled the plan claiming resources workers could become infected and thus hamper Australia’s economic recovery. Now Queensland has attempted to hold the federal government to ransom


NBN greed lambasted by Senate

The Senate passed a motion yesterday attacking NBN Co for paying almost $78 million in pandemic bonuses in the second half of 2020, describing the payments as “excessive, unreasonable, and lacking in justification”. The motion passed 32 votes to 30, with Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance, PHON and independent Senator Rex Patrick all backing it.


Make retirees spend their super

Superannuation Minister Jane Hume has recently stated that super funds should be forced to offer new retirement income products so that retirees use more of their super rather than save it. According to The AFR, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will echo these comments when he speaks to a retirement income forum today, saying that people should


Australian mortgage growth surges

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has released mortgage growth figures for January, which continued to strengthen on the back of owner-occupiers. Quarterly mortgage growth rose to 1.14% in January – the 6th consecutive monthly increase – and is now experiencing its strongest growth since September 2018 (see next chart). Owner-occupiers continue to lead the


How to solve farm labour shortages

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, shutting Australia’s international border, we have heard incessant pleas from farmers to allow migrant fruit pickers into the country. We are told that without these migrant workers, fruit will shrivel on the vine and vegetables will rot on the fields, leaving farmers deeply out of pocket financially and


Will axing of JobSeeker scuttle the property price boom?

Eliza Owen, Head of Research Australia at CoreLogic, has released new research examining the likely impact of the end-March withdrawal of the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement on Australia’s property markets. Owen provides a fairly sanguine assessment, noting that JobSeeker has already been tapered significantly since late September without any detrimental impact on the property market. To


Links 26 February 2021

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Some investors face ‘colossal’ losses on U.S. Treasury bonds as yields surge – Market Watch Tesla’s Cheap $25,000 Car Could Cost Just $19,000 – Inside EVs Dow closes at record high as Powell signals Fed to remain accommodative – Business Insider Alibaba, once a fund darling, now dumped by


Trans-Tasman travel bubble dealt fatal blow

The Trans-Tasman Travel bubble, which promised to allow unrestricted two-way travel between Australia and New Zealand, has been dealt a fatal blow with Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria each imposing new restrictions on Auckland arrivals following new community virus transmissions across the city. Overnight, New South Wales and Victoria reclassified Auckland as a virus


Aussie CFO sentiment surges to decade high

Deloitte has released its 10th biannual CFO Sentiment survey covering the second half of 2020. The survey shows that CFO sentiment has surged to a decade high on the back of the economy’s “V-shaped” recovery, including the strong rebound in employment and decade high consumer confidence. 72% of CFOs are now feeling optimistic or highly


Coalition’s $90b French subs are Australia’s worst ever pork-barrel

In 2016, the Turnbull Government bizarrely announced that France’s Naval Group had won the $50 billion bid to build 12 extremely large submarines in Adelaide. It was later revealed that the decision was arrived at to pork barrel the seat of former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne by ‘creating’ 3,000 jobs. Since then, the project has


COVID-19 saved Australian lives

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that 126,974 certified deaths were recorded nationwide between January 1 and November 24, down from a baseline average of 127,872 over the past 5 years. In particular, there were only 42 deaths from influenza during this period, although all but two occurred before 22 April. Australian


CBA: Iron ore to crash in 2021

Gareth Aird, head of Australian economics at CBA, has written a new note examining the outlook for Australian commodity prices in 2021. Aird sees commodity prices “remaining well supported in 2021” on the back of “momentum in the global economy”. This will keep Australia’s terms-of-trade elevated in 2021, thus supporting national income as mining profits


HomeBuilder drives big residential construction rebound

It is hard to deny that the Morrison Government’s HomeBuilder subsidy has given a much needed ‘shot in the arm’ to Australia’s housing construction industry. Under Homebuilder, the federal government provided $25,000 grants to underwrite the construction of new homes or major renovations for contracts signed before 31 December 2020. The scheme was later extended


Should workers be forced back to the CBD?

The Melbourne City Council continues to plead with the Victorian Government to order workers back to the CBD to boost economic activity and support business. At a council meeting earlier this week, Lord Mayor Sally Capp said “our city businesses are absolutely crying out for the return of city workers” and claimed that “every city