Unconventional Economist


Consumer groups slam mortgage broker forum

By Leith van Onselen Consumer groups have lashed the mortgage broking industry for pretending to care about reform while vigorously lobbying politicians to protect their commissions. From SBS News: The consumer groups that were part of a forum with the mortgage-broking industry have quit en masse, citing a lack of progress and willingness to change.


Auckland house prices continue to fall

By Leith van Onselen The REINZ has released its house price data for January, which revealed a 2.9% seasonally adjusted rise in the national median house price, with prices up just 5.2% year-on-year: Outside of Auckland, seasonally adjusted house prices rose by 2.3% in December, with prices up 9.7% year-on-year. Looking at the major cities,


Coalition forced to compromise on super life insurance gouge

By Leith van Onselen At the end of 2018, the Morrison Government failed to strike a deal with the Senate cross-bench to pass a bill that would have seen fees for low-balance superannuation accounts capped at 3% and exempted fund members under the age of 25 from compulsory life insurance. Last night, the Government struck


Return of the immigration ‘bait-and-switch’

By Leith van Onselen MB has previously lambasted the immigration ‘bait-and-switch’ deployed by former Prime Minister John Howard whereby he slammed the door shut on the relatively small number of refugees arriving into Australia by boat all the while stealthily shoving open the door to economic migrants arriving here by plane. The ultimate result was


Low-wage temporary migrants flood Sydney and Melbourne

By Leith van Onselen The ABS yesterday released a report entitled Insights from the Australian Census and Temporary Entrants Integrated Dataset, 2016, which revealed that there were 1,500,409 temporary residents in Australia on Census night, comprising: 41% Special Category (New Zealand citizen) visa holders – 664,957 persons (634,250 residents and 30,705 overseas visitors). 30% Student


CoreLogic weekly Australian house price update: More smash

By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 14 February 2019, the CoreLogic 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, tanked another 0.24%: Values fell across all major markets except Brisbane: So far in February, home values have fallen by 0.48% at the 5-city level, with all major markets


Links 15 February 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: What’s Wrong With Functional Finance? – NY Times How a Nasdaq Loophole Fueled One Stock’s Rise of 3,750% – WSJ The libertarian fantasies of cryptocurrencies – FT Would Your Portfolio Survive a Nuclear Incident? – Barron’s Cisco Boosts Dividend, Buyback Program After a Strong Quarter – WSJ ETF Tied


Mining lobby cries wolf at phantom labour shortages

By Leith van Onselen Back in December, Western Australia’s mining sector attempted to soften-up the government to open the floodgates for temporary foreign workers to fill invented ‘skills shortages’ because of reported rising wage costs and an imaginary lack of workers. From The West Australian: A growing skills shortage is threatening to derail billions of dollars


Auction clearances post seasonal bounce

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 3.0% decline in the final national auction clearance rate to 51.1%: As you can see, Sydney’s auction clearance rate fell by 5.2% to 54.0% whereas Melbourne’s fell


Longview Economics: Australian “recession likely” in 2019-20

By Leith van Onselen Following on from Gerard Minack’s report contending that “a recession in Australia is becoming more likely”,  Longview Economics has delivered a similar verdict: Summary & Conclusion: Excess in the Australian housing market has been widely discussed by investors and commentators for a number of years. Underpinned by cheap money, house prices


RBA throws another economist under the deflation bus

By Leith van Onselen With Australia’s consumer economy facing massive headwinds from the plummeting housing market and the likely reversal in the household savings rate: The RBA’s head of economic analysis, Alexandra Heath, has reached once more for the wage growth unicorn, claiming that rising wages growth will offset any fall in household consumption. From The


Links 14 February 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Wealth Inequality Is Way Worse Than You Think, And Tax Havens Play A Big Role – Forbes Bill Gates tweeted out a chart and sparked a huge debate about global poverty – VOX A hedge fund’s ‘mercenary’ strategy: Buy newspapers, slash jobs, sell the buildings – Washington Post Bill


Labor’s Daley jams immigration magic pudding down Sydney’s throat

By Leith van Onselen NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, has launched another hypocritical attack over the rampant over-development across Sydney: Opposition leader Michael Daley on Tuesday seized on growing concerns about overdevelopment and said a Labor government would stop developers from bypassing councils… “That is not how you plan a growing city. I don’t want a


Is Australia’s housing bust spreading to New Zealand?

By Leith van Onselen The property downturn appears to be spreading into New Zealand, with the latest valuation data from Quotable Value revealing that average residential property values in Auckland were almost 1% lower year-on-year in January, whereas the rate of price growth has also declined sharply across the rest of New Zealand: The latest RBNZ Survey


The case for cutting taxes fails ‘economics 101’

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, has questioned the obsession with cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy, claiming it fails economics 101. From The Guardian: Bill Shorten’s ALP are promising to close tax loopholes, collect tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue and spend tens of billions of dollars


Labor pushes for massive banker penalties

From SBS News: Bankers found guilty of serious corporate crimes could be jailed for up to 15 years and shonky corporations may face fines of up to $525 million, under legislation proposed by Labor. In the wake of the damning banking royal commission, the federal party wants to significantly increase penalties against financial institutions who


CoreLogic: Record apartment construction slamming rents

By Leith van Onselen CoreLogic has released its December Quarter Economic Review, which contains some interesting titbits on the housing market. A highlight is the below chart showing that apartments under construction are hovering at record high levels, which has raised settlement risk: At the end of the September 2018 quarter there 227,186 dwellings under


Why China will ‘grow old’ before it ‘gets rich’

By Leith van Onselen I have noted previously how China’s economy is facing stiff headwinds from an ageing population (see here, here, here, and here). Essentially, China’s ageing problem stems from its ‘one child policy’, which was brought into effect in the early-1970s and is credited with preventing around 400 million births from 1979 to


Transurban continues to privatise gains from mass immigration

By Leith van Onselen While residents of Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from crush-loaded roads, trains, schools, hospitals, and prisons, as well as hideously expensive housing, toll road company Transurban yesterday reported a massive lift in toll road revenues as Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy continues to feed it customers. According to Transurban: Average


Sydney rental vacancies continue to trend higher

By Leith van Onselen SQM Research has released its rental vacancy series for January, which revealed a mostly seasonal 0.3% decline in the national vacancy rate over the month but also a 0.1% decline over the year: Over the year, increases in vacancies were recorded in Sydney (+0.9%), Melbourne (+0.1%), Darwin (+0.7%), and Hobart (+0.1%),


Links 13 February 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Vanguard investment chief sees near 50-50 chance of recession in 2020 – Reuters Plunge in crypto sets stage for Facebook and other tech giants to hire blockchain experts – CNBC Inflation: Stress-Testing the Phillips Curve – FRBSF The 34-Year-Old Hedge Fund Manager Who Bet Everything On A Stock That