Unconventional Economist


Chinese tourists and students abuse Australia’s protection visas

By Leith van Onselen The great Australian immigration rort has hit a whole new level of ridiculousness today, with Chinese tourists and international students helping to drive an absurd 311% increase in asylum seeker claims. From The ABC: Key points: People claiming to be Christian, LGBTI and love children are among those seeking asylum All


Keating’s superannuation monster is out of control

By Leith van Onselen The Australian’s Judith Sloan has continued her commendable attack against Paul Keating’s compulsory superannuation monster, describing it as “one of the costliest and most ineffective retirement models in the world”: Most people think Paul Keating has four children. In fact, he has five. The fifth is compulsory superannuation: super for short…


Housing finance records dead cat bounce

By Leith van Onselen Today’s housing finance data for October, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), posted a rebound in finance commitments, with both investor and owner-occupied demand lifting. According to the ABS, the total number of owner-occupier finance commitments (excluding refinancings) rose by 2.3% in October in seasonally adjusted terms but has


Off the plan Sydney buyers sink underwater

By Leith van Onselen With Sydney unit values down 6.5% since the June 2017 peak, according to CoreLogic: Buyers that purchased off-the-plan apartments near the peak of the boom are now sinking into negative equity and settlement risk is rising: Sydneysiders who snapped up off-the-plan apartments at the peak of the property boom are now


Victorian Premier turns infrastructure gun on ScoMo

By Leith van Onselen The vertical fiscal imbalances plaguing the federation has reared its ugly head again, with Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, writing to Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanding billions of dollars in funding from the federal government to cope with unrelenting immigration-driven population growth. From The SMH: In a letter to Prime Minister Scott


The ATO fails dismally in policing illegal foreign home buyers

By Leith van Onselen A parliamentary committee into Managing Compliance with Foreign Investment Obligations for Residential Real Estate has uncovered more details about how Victoria (read Melbourne) is the nation’s hotbed for illegal foreign purchases of Australian property and how the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has failed miserably to enforce the rules precluding foreign nationals


Sydney property losses crash through 10%

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, the Sydney housing market hit an important milestone, recording a peak-to-trough decline of 10% after falling for 17 consecutive months: Already, this is the second worst housing correction experienced in Sydney over the past 40 years: It is also happening at a much faster rate than Perth’s housing correction, which


Scanlon Foundation hoisted upon own immigration petard

By Leith van Onselen I noted last week how the Scanlon Foundation’s mouthpiece, professor Andrew Markus, rubbished most recent opinion polling, from a variety of sources, supporting lower immigration into Australia, including: Australian Population Research Institute: 54% want lower immigration; Newspoll: 56% want lower immigration; Essential: 54% believe Australia’s population is growing too fast and


Auction clearances sink deeper into the abyss

CoreLogic released its auction report yesterday, which reported another pathetically weak round of auctions, with auction clearances remaining near 2011 lows. The preliminary national auction clearance rate was just 45.3% versus 47.0% last weekend (later revised down to 41.3%). The preliminary clearance rate was also way below the 59.5% recorded in the same weekend of


Links 9 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Trump Is Gripped by Market Volatility—And His Role in It – WSJ Trump is reportedly ’glued’ to the stock market’s fluctuations and worried he’s causing them – CNBC Trump’s trade war has cost the S&P 10% this year, JP Morgan estimates – CNBC The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming


Weekend Reading 8-9 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Investors withdraw billions from US equity funds – FT Wild market swings hinge on a different kind of leverage – FT Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018 – NY Times The moral assumptions embedded in economic models of climate change – The Economist Deutsche


Thanks to Labor, young worker super gouge intensifies

By Leith van Onselen The Morrison Government failed to pass its bill that would have seen fees for low-balance superannuation accounts capped at 3% and exempt funds members under the age of 25 from compulsory life insurance after it failed to convince enough cross-benchers to vote for the bill. Consequently, younger workers and those with


Evaporating Chinese demand to deepen property bust

By Leith van Onselen The Foreign Investment Review Board’s 2016-17 annual report, released in May, revealed a sharp contraction in residential real estate applications from foreign buyers, driven by a halving in applications from China: This was followed in October by NAB’s quarterly property industry survey, which revealed a sharp contraction in demand from foreign buyers: Especially


UK cracks down on money laundering visas as Australia washes furiously

By Leith van Onselen The UK has cracked down on their equivalent of Special Investor Visas, halting the scheme because of fears it is being used to launder money. From BBC News: Ministers are halting a “gold-plated” visa scheme offering foreign investors a fast-track to settling in the UK, as part of a crackdown on financial


WA Government summons sub-prime first home buyers

By Leith van Onselen Earlier this year, leading real estate rent-seeker, the Property Council of Australia (PCA), pushed another idiotic policy “solution” to fix Australia’s housing affordability woes: offering a government-backed low deposit home loan scheme: A government-backed low-­deposit home loan scheme could help address housing affordability by getting more buyers into the market and


Real household disposable income also continues to fall

By Leith van Onselen The September quarter national accounts was another shocker for Australian households. According to the ABS, the real average compensation per employee fell another 0.7% in the year to September 2018 to be 4.7% lower since March 2012: Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) also released real household disposable income (HDI)


Crashing sales volumes to drag house prices lower

By Leith van Onselen CoreLogic’s latest dwelling sales data was more bad news for those groups heavily reliant on property transactions, such as real estate agents and state governments (via stamp duty). It also points straight down for house prices. The next chart plots annual sales volumes across the five major markets to August 2018,


CoreLogic weekly house price update: Oh dear!

By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 6 December 2018, the CoreLogic 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, tanked another 0.36% – the biggest weekly decline of the past year: Values fell across all major markets except Adelaide: The quarterly decline has steepened to 2.3%, with Sydney,


WA economic bust gets second wind

By Leith van Onselen Western Australia’s economy appears to have taken another leg down, with yesterday’s national accounts recording a second consecutive quarterly decline in final demand, falling by 0.3% in the September quarter – the third consecutive decline: Whereas annual final demand fell by 0.8%: At the same time, Perth dwelling values have taken


Links 7 December 2018

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Facebook’s Internal Tensions Are Reaching A Boiling Point – BuzzFeed Deutsche Bank shares fall to new all-time low – FT With a Green New Deal, Here’s What the World Could Look Like for the Next Generation – The Intercept Sell-offs could be down to machines that control 80% of


Migrants only want to move to Melbourne and Sydney

By Leith van Onselen Over the past year or so, I have ridiculed the new found push by Coalition politicians towards decentralisation, noting that this is a pipe dream based on the settlement pattern of new migrants, which have overwhelmingly chosen to flood the major cities. My view was initially based primarily on data from


Farcical health star ratings system gets facelift

By Leith van Onselen Over the past few 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


Trade surplus falls, misses expectations

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released trade data for the month of October, with Australia’s trade surplus falling to $2,316 million in October from $2,709 million in September: The result missed expectations of a $3 billion surplus. Below is the time series chart: The below chart tracks the growth


Final auction clearance rate crashes to 2011 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 5.7% decline in the national auction clearance rate to 41.3%, with Sydney’s auction clearance rate diving 9.0% to 41.6% and Melbourne’s falling 3.1% to just


Retail sales steady despite housing headwinds

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released retail sales figures for the month of October, which recorded a 0.3% rise in retail sales over the month in seasonally-adjusted terms, with annual sales growth steady at 3.6%: In trend terms, annual retail sales growth was flat to 3.5%. The below chart


Another ‘worst ever’ negative gearing attack

By Leith van Onselen Philippe Brach, CEO of Multifocus Properties and Finance, has penned a hilariously contradictory article in Your Investment Property attacking Labor’s proposed negative gearing reforms. Let’s take a look at his key arguments. First, on Budget impacts: By allowing negative gearing on investment properties, the government forgoes about $3 billion in taxes


Sydney’s/Melbourne’s house price busts will be worse than Perth’s

By Leith van Onselen Several commentators have warned that Sydney and Melbourne are facing far worse housing correction than Perth, whose housing market has been plunging for more than four years. From The ABC: Perth is more than four years into a housing downturn that is yet to bottom out… In WA, house prices were