Unconventional Economist


Links 12 August 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Uber, losing billions, freezes engineering hires – Ars Technica Global economy is probably in recession – Reuters Cryptoknowmics- A brief Introduction – Medium Americas: Florida raking in billions as Americans abandon high-tax states – Fox Business US Gun Lobby Chief Dismisses Calls For Tougher Firearms Checks – RTT News


Weekend Reading: 10-11 August 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Uber Posts $5.2 Billion Quarterly Loss; Sales Miss Estimates – Bloomberg Uber loses $5 billion, misses Wall Street targets despite easing price war – Reuters Investors try to figure out Trump’s trade war endgame: ‘I can’t even tell you what victory is’ – CNBC Why you shouldn’t keep your


Transurban’s “meta-monopoly” turns taxpayers into roadkill

While residents of Sydney and Melbourne are suffering from crush-loaded roads, trains, schools, and hospitals, as well as smaller and more expensive housing, toll road company Transurban is making out like a bandit. Earlier this year, ABC News reported that Sydney’s toll road network is the most expensive and extensive in the world : …transport


Mirvac sheds crocodile tears over “outrageous” apartment crisis

Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, the CEO of Australia’s largest apartment developer Mirvac, has demanded an urgent lift in building standards, labelling the crisis in defective units as “outrageous” and a “breach of faith”. From The SMH: “Of particular urgency currently is the need to raise building standards in Australia,” she said. Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said it was “unacceptable”


VIC Government dramatically lifts Melbourne’s population projection

Over many years, Melbourne has lead the nation’s population growth, adding a ridiculous 1.3 million people (a 36% increase) in the 14 years to June 2018: When I worked at the Victorian Treasury in 2006, the State Government had just released “Melbourne 2030”, which projected that the city’s population would reach 5 million people by


Australian property sales collapse to 23-year low

Below are the latest charts, derived from CoreLogic data, plotting annual sales volumes across Australia’s capital cities to April 2019: Sydney (-46%), Melbourne (-38%), Brisbane (-30%), and Perth (-37%) are all down massively from their most recent peaks, whereas across the combined capitals sales are down 34%. In fact, the last time annual sales volumes


Morrison Government conceals migrant stampede behind bridging visas

Last year, the Morrison Government announced that it would cut Australia’s non-humanitarian permanent migrant intake by 20,000 to 160,000, in order to “relieve congestion in the cities”. From the outset, MB labelled this a ‘fake cut’, based on the fact that both temporary migration and net overseas migration (NOM) continues to increase, as illustrated in the


Chinese international students strongarm universities

The aggression by Chinese international students at Australia’s universities continues to build. In the wake of recent violence inflicted against Hong Kong students at the University of Queensland, as well as the widespread vandalism of Hong Kong Lennon boards across Australian university campuses, a Chinese student group has demanded the University of Tasmania remove pro-Hong


Links 9 August 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Investors try to figure out Trump’s trade war endgame: ‘I can’t even tell you what victory is’ – CNN While US rants, rest of the world is working on free-trade deals – SCMP Air freight in decline for eighth consecutive month – IATA Bosch to cut jobs due to


Peter Costello demands “thorough” compulsory super debate

The legislated increase in the superannuation guarantee continues to attract scrutiny, with former treasurer Peter Costello calling for the issue to be “thoroughly debated” in the Coalition’s partyroom. He says increasing the guarantee from 9.5% at present to 12% by mid-2025 will have “very significant ramifications”: “This is an enormous decision and … should be


“Grubby” politicians change laws to prevent being kicked out of parliament

No wonder trust in Australia’s politicians and institutions is at an historical low. From 10 daily: Labor and Coalition politicians stitched up a deal to protect themselves from being kicked out of Parliament. In April, in the dying hours of the last Parliament, with the Federal Budget being debated and the election about to be


Victoria to become “powerhouse of population and property”

“Unabashed supporter of a bigger Australia”, Bernard Salt, has spruiked new projections for Victoria’s population which he claims will make the state a “powerhouse”: Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning released new projections in July showing a powerhouse of population growth and property (and infrastructure) demand unfolding over the coming generation… The previous


Sydney/Melbourne final auction clearance rates hold above 70%

Last weekend, CoreLogic released its preliminary auction clearance rates, which revealed the following results: Today, CoreLogic released its final auction results, which reported a 1.9% decline in the final national auction clearance rate to 66.4% – well above the same weekend last year (54.0%) but below last week’s 68.6%: As you can see, Sydney’s final auction


Demand-driven university delivers Australia a “skills crisis”

The 2008 Bradley review into higher education was concerned that the strict allocation of undergraduate university places over the prior 30 years would lead to a shortage of graduates for the so-called “knowledge economy”. Accordingly, it recommended the uncapping of university places and the implementation of the demand-driven system, which was implemented by the Gillard


Ralan reads last rites to Aussie apartment market funeral

As we know, developer Ralan has collapsed, via The Australian: The collapse of the prolific east coast suburban apartment developer Ralan Group, headed by British-born William O’Dwyer, owing creditors at least half a billion dollars has highlighted the fragile state of the high-rise property market. …The private Ralan Group specialised in high rise developments with a


IT Start-ups handed migrant visa slaves

The Morrison Government has announced that it will make the Global Talent Scheme permanent after a 12-month trial, thus permitting start ups to employ cheap migrant workers: Under the program, two visa streams are available to fill specialised positions. Established businesses with a turnover of $4 million can apply for up to 20 visas for


Report: Sydney and Melbourne commute times to balloon

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has released a new report warning that Sydney and Melbourne are facing dramatic increases in commute times if their populations are allowed to expand as projected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS): For most cities, ABS and state government projections have been released out to the mid-2030s. Our modelling


More Chinese international student aggression

Over recent weeks, Chinese international students have been involved in incidents suppressing pro-Hong Kong protests. Late last month, violence erupted at the University of Queensland when a group of Hong Kong secessionist protestors were attacked by Chinese nationalist students. Hong Kong students were assaulted and reportedly subjected to further harassment and intimidation in the days following. Auckland


Links 8 August 2019

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: ‘Ready to Rumble’: U.S.-China Fight Puts World Economy on the Brink – NY Times Volvo Uses Blockchain to Prove Cars Made from Ethical Materials – BeInCrypto Former Fed chairs Volcker, Greenspan, Bernanke and Yellen call for independent central bank – CNBC Why trade in East Africa is often a


More calls to reform car taxes

The Morrison Government is being urged to remove Australia’s 33% luxury car tax following the demise of the local car assembly industry. From The AFR: Treasury is consulting on plans to extend a refund scheme for primary producers and tourism business operators, saving owners up to $10,000 on luxury car purchases… Farming advocates welcomed the


Why owners should sell “bubonic plague” apartments

New research from Propertyology has advised owners of recently built apartments to consider cutting their losses and selling now before : The analysis from respected property market research firm Propertyology said unit owners who were patiently waiting for prices to rebound were playing Russian Roulette with their financial futures amid a looming apartment crisis. Propertyology


High Speed Rail: A bogus solution to an avoidable population problem

The Guardian has continued its series on high-speed rail (HSR), which has turned its focus away from East Coast HSR – linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane – to smaller branch HSR rail lines linking regional cities, like Goulburn, with their respective capital cities: A lack of vision and political will, short-termism, genuine concerns about


Australian mortgage market shows signs of life

Today’s housing finance data for June from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded a modest rebound in mortgage commitments: As shown above, total finance commitments (excluding refinancings) rose by 1.9% in June, with owner-occupied commitments rising 2.4% and investor commitments rising 0.5%. However, 0ver the year, total finance commitments (excluding refinancings) crashed by 17.6%, with investor


NSW Government blows apartment crisis smokescreen

Last week we reported that the NSW Government had belatedly appointed a dedicated building commissioner to return integrity to the construction industry amid the proliferation of flammable cladding and structural faults across the apartment market. This commissioner is slated to “drive legislative reforms of the industry” and would be there to convince developers to “do the job