Leith van Onselen


Australian dwelling construction implodes

The ABS has released dwelling construction data for the June quarter, which recorded a collapse in dwelling commencements and completions. According to the ABS, the number of dwelling commencements slumped by a seasonally-adjusted 5.6% over the June quarter and by 8.0% over the year. Detached house commencements fell by 0.8% over the quarter and by


NSW overtakes VIC for new COVID infections

Australia has recorded 20 new COVID-19 infections, comprising 13 in NSW and 7 in Victoria: Most importantly, 4 infections were from an unknown source: These unknown 4 sources were all in Victoria, where contact tracing is sub-standard: Metro Melbourne’s 14-day average infection rate retraced back to 9.6, still nearly double the 5 required to ease


Aussies furiously repaying mortgages

Data from Firstmac shows that there was a sharp rise in the proportion of the non-bank lenders’ customers who chose to make additional mortgage repayments in the September quarter. CFO James Austin says this suggests that consumers are being cautious in the current economic environment and opting to reduce their mortgage rather than spend their


It’s official: Immigration is collapsing

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released its Overseas Arrivals and Departures data for August, which revealed that immigration has collapsed to its lowest level since mid-2003: In the year to August 2020, net long-term arrivals were 156,960, down 45% from the 283,860 recorded in February before Australia’s border restrictions came into effect due


CBD property vacancies balloon to unprecedented highs

SQM Research has released its rental vacancy data for September, which revealed a flat vacancy rate nationally but ballooning vacancies across Melbourne and major CBD markets. Melbourne’s rental vacancy rate has nearly doubled over the past year to 3.8% – the highest reading since December 2011. Sydney’s rental vacancy rate, by comparison, retraced to 3.5%


Aussie property values turn negative in 2020

Yesterday, CoreLogic’s daily dwelling values index hit a triple milestone for 2020. First, the 5-city index finally turned negative (-0.01%) for calendar year 2020: Yesterday, Melbourne’s decline from its most recent peak (on 6 April 2020) hit 6.0%, whereas Sydney’s decline from its 5 May peak hit 3.0%: Looking ahead, we expect mortgage demand to


Links 14 October 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Elon Musk Says that Starlink is all Set to Provide High-Speed Internet Service to the World – Tech Elevation Arm co-founder: Nvidia takeover would create another US tech monopoly – The Guardian Global Companies Are Caught Between New Taxes and a Trade War – WSJ Factors affecting determining crude


New Zealand property bubbles

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) has released its house price data for September, which has reported booming sales and record high prices: As shown above, the seasonally adjusted median house price soared 14.1% year-on-year in September, with Auckland rising 11.8% year-on-year and regions outside of Auckland rising 16.3%. Sales volumes have also


Is this the death of cinema?

The box-office takings of Australian cinemas totalled $1.23 billion in 2019. William Chapman of IBISWorld has forecast that this will be 75% lower in 2020 after the sector was shut down in response to the first wave of coronavirus infections. And while cinemas outside of Victoria are starting to re-open with social-distancing policies, there is


Corporatisation of Australia Post has gone horribly wrong

Australia Post has been embroiled in more controversy, with Fairfax reporting extreme largesse from its CEO at the same time as it wound back deliveries: Australia Post boss Christine Holgate hired a $3000-a-day “reputation management” firm while the organisation sought to justify winding back mail delivery services and win political influence during the coronavirus pandemic.


Telstra circles NBN

Telstra executive Nikos Katinakis says its 5G network now covers over 40% of the Australian population, with 75% coverage expected to be achieved by June 2021: “We’re now in more than 2000 sites across the country, and in over 60 cities and towns, and 1400 suburbs that have 50 per cent coverage or more,” Mr


Labor’s childcare policy not as good as it appears

The Grattan Institute has given a ‘tick of approval’ to Labor’s $6.2 billion childcare policy, which proposes to increase the maximum Child Care Subsidy from 85% to 90%, slow down the rate at which the subsidy tapers off, and remove the annual cap: It’s economic reform, not welfare As veteran commentator John Durie points out: “When a


Public servants want to keep working from home

Australia’s overlords are furiously trying to force public servants to discontinue working from home (WFH) and return to the office. At the end of last month, the Australian Public Service Commission directed agencies to start bringing employees back to their usual place of work. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also urged public servants to return to


NSW overtakes VIC in new COVID-19 infections

Australia has recorded 25 new COVID-19 infections, comprising 13 in NSW and 12 in Victoria: Fortunately, only one is from an unknown source and six were international arrivals in hotel quarantine: Metro Melbourne’s infection rate has begun to creep up: And the 14-day moving average has risen slightly to 10, double the target of 5


Lies, damned lies and population statistics

Demographic researcher, Mark McCrindle, has taken scaremongering over Australia’s lower projected population growth to new lows: Australia could finish the decade with up to 1.7 million fewer people than had previously been forecast as a result of the “large and likely long-lasting” effects of the global coronavirus pandemic… In McCrindle’s first scenario, “the snap back”,


Early superannuation withdrawals slow some more

APRA has published its early superannuation release data for the week ended 4 October, which revealed that only $242 million was withdrawn from Australia’s superannuation system, taking the total amount withdrawn early to $34.1 billion: According to APRA: Over the week to 4 October, superannuation funds made payments to 33,000 members, bringing the total number


Jacinda Ardern must fix New Zealand’s housing crisis

Fairfax’s Peter Hartcher believes that housing policy is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Achilles Heel: Ardern promised to lead a “government of transformation” and 2019 was to be “the year of delivery”. In fact, she committed a distinctly unmagical act: “She’s overpromised and undelivered,” says James. Mills, Labour’s pollster, agrees that this is fair.


Dan Andrews has no excuse to continue lockdown

In yesterday’s daily press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews swatted away a question about easing Victoria’s draconian lockdowns (watch from 37 minute mark in above video): Question: “Have you heard the comments from the WHO about lockdowns and encouraging governments to not use lockdowns as the primary source of suppressing the virus? Especially when the


Forecasting Australia’s monstrous property oversupply

Last week I produced a series of charts plotting Australia’s projected population growth, as forecast in last week’s federal budget, against the latest dwelling approvals, commencements and completions data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (example below). The population data these charts were based upon is presented below, taken directly from the federal budget: Today


Labor: Extend ProfitKeeper wage subsidy scheme to all

Labor, crossbenchers and the Greens are reportedly threatening to block the Morrison Government’s JobMaker program unless it is extended to all age groups: Scott Morrison’s $4bn wage subsidy scheme for new employees aged up to 35 could be derailed in the Senate by Labor, crossbenchers and the Greens, with the government staring down pressure to


Links 13 October 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: IMF and World Bank must act fast after Covid caught policymakers napping – The Guardian Stocks climb, closing out biggest weekly gain in 3 months – USA Today Big New ETF Players May Be Ready to Bring Back the Price Wars – Bloomberg Americas: Silicon Valley Pay Cuts Ignite


The great Aussie household deleveraging

Data released this month suggests Australian households are deleveraging at a furious pace. First, the latest credit aggregates data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) revealed that the stock of personal credit collapsed by 12.5% in the year to August – the biggest decline in recorded history: Second, new car sales data from the Federal


Mortgage growth points to stronger property market

Friday’s housing finance data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) points to a rebound in Australian property price growth. This data showed a dramatic 12.6% lift in mortgage finance commitments (excluding refinancings) in August, with owner-occupied mortgages surging 13.6% and investor mortgages rising 9.3%: As regular readers know, mortgage growth is one of the


Sydney’s auction market holds firm

CoreLogic’s preliminary auction clearance rate softened, with 71.5% of reported auctions cleared versus 69.3% last weekend: Sydney’s preliminary clearance rate retraced slightly with 73.1% of reported auctions sold, down from 73.2% last weekend. However, Melbourne’s preliminary auction clearance rate fell to 59.6% versus 63.3% last weekend, albeit off only 60 reported auctions. According to CoreLogic:


Links 12 October 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Goldman Sachs’ Warning: You Won’t Be Able To Make Money In 2021 – Newsmac Do People not Understand what Regulating Crypto will Mean? – Medium Big New ETF Players May Be Ready to Bring Back the Price Wars – Bloomberg U.S. bank stocks are fine, if you are rich


Weekend Reading 10-11 October 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Samsung soon to retake its position as the world’s top smartphone seller from embattled Chinese rival Huawei – Daily NY Low interest rates for way too long – CNBC Covid-19 pandemic will throw 150 million people into extreme poverty by 2021 – Mazech Unemployment is world’s biggest risk, business