Unconventional Economist


Bogan Bali boom eases

By Leith van Onselen Missed this on Tuesday, when the ABS released the overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures for August, which showed another record number of departures over the year, again led by the bogan hot spot of Bali. Although short-term visitor arrivals increased by 3.7% in August, whereas short-term resident departures fell by


Much more fat to trim

By Leith van Onselen In yesterday’s post, Stamp duty slump to continue, I showed how the state and territory governments’ stamp duty receipts are unlikely to recover as expected over the forward budget estimates due to the ongoing slump in housing transactions (see below charts). The article concluded by arguing that the ongoing slump in


Digging into improved auction clearance rates

By Leith van Onselen Australia’s two largest housing markets registered a pick-up in auction clearance rates over the weekend. In New South Wales, a provisional auction clearance rate of 63% was recorded from 430 auctions reported to the REINSW. This compares to a provisional clearance rate of 62% recorded last weekend on 421 auctions. The


Stamp duty slump to continue

By Leith van Onselen 2011 was a bad year for Australia’s state governments. The value of housing transactions slumped, hitting their lowest levels in six years in nominal terms, and their lowest level in eleven years in real, inflation-adjusted terms (see below charts). The slump in housing transactions hit state government budgets hard, with the


Victorian mortgage demand, transfers fall sharply

By Leith van Onselen The Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE) released transfer and mortgage data for the month of September, which revealed further weakness in the number of housing transfers and finance commitments. First, below is a chart showing the rolling annual number of housing transfers from March 2003 to September 2012: September’s


Retail sales in detail

By Leith van Onselen As noted by Houses & Holes earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning released the retail trade data for the month of August, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 0.2% increase over the month, half the consensus forecast of 0.4% growth. Over the year, retail sales increased by 3.2%. There were


Dwelling approvals in detail

By Leith van Onselen As noted by Houses & Holes earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the Building Approvals data for the month of August, which retraced some of the large falls of July (revised down from -17.3% to -21.2%), increasing by a seasonally-adjusted 6.4% over the month and beating consensus


SQM: Stock on market steady in September

By Leith van Onselen SQM Research has released its stock on market figures for the month of September, which registered no change over the month nationally, but a -2.6% decrease in the number of homes for sale over the year: Here’s the national chart, which shows stock levels remaining elevated: However, it’s a two-tiered market,


Trade deficit shocker

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released trade data for the month of August, with Australia recording a big seasonally-adjusted increase in its trade deficit to -$2,027 million, from -$1,530 million in July. June and July’s trade balances were also revised down heavily, from -$227 million to -$791 million


Negative gearing exposed

By Leith van Onselen Philip Soos, Master’s research student and employed researcher at Deakin University, last night gave a presentation on negative gearing. His Powerpoint is provided below. A summary article was published on Monday in The Conversation. I have been a long-time skeptic of negatively geared property investment, as articulated in detail on my old blog in June


Garnaut’s bitter pill must be swallowed

By Leith van Onselen Following up his recent warnings that Australia faces a sharp drop in living standards as the mining boom unwinds, Professor Ross Garnaut has delivered another sobering assessment, claiming that Australia faces “dog days” of faltering incomes and living standards as the Chinese economy slows. From the AFR today: …the “salad days”


Housing credit growth weak in August

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has just released the private sector credit aggregates, which registered a small decrease in total credit growth in the month of August, but the third lowest monthly housing credit growth in the series’ 35-year history and the lowest quarterly and annual mortgage growth ever recorded:


Charting Australia’s population growth

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, the ABS released the Australian Demographic Statistics for the March quarter of 2012. According to the ABS, Australia’s population grew by 1.5% in the year to March 2012, which was the highest annual recorded rate of growth since December 2009, and above the 30-year average of 1.3%. The growth in


Uncovering Australia’s sub-prime lending

By Leith van Onselen The Australian newspaper (Anthony Klan in particular) has done some great work this year in questioning the commonly held view that Australia’s banking sector is conservative. In April, The Australian uncovered how Australia’s largest banks are being forced to forgive mortgage debts of borrowers granted loans based on falsified or fraudulent


China’s rich feel property squeeze

By Leith van Onselen Above is an interesting video from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) explaining how the correction underway in China’s property market is adversely affecting the wealth of China’s richest citizens. According to the WSJ, around half of China’s 1,000 wealthiest citizens experienced financial losses in the past year, with average wealth falling


Links: 27 September

Global Macro:  The dawn of systemically important commodity traders – FT Alphaville Hedge Fund Skeptics Warn on ‘QE Infinity’ – US Business News – CNBC Why Japan And China Buy US Debt – Business Insider North America: July Case Shiller Beats And Misses At The Same Time – Zero Hedge Fed Helps Lenders’ Profit More


Stop talking, RBA, and do something

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Financial Stability Review, released yesterday, contained at least three unambiguous warnings that Australian lenders should not seek to relax lending standards in a bid to increase market share and boost profitability: “With demand for credit likely to remain moderate, a challenge for firms in a


More salty claims on housing affordability

By Leith van Onselen There has been a spate of articles recently making some spurious claims about housing affordability in Australia. Yesterday, two articles caught my eye. The first, by the AFR’s David Basanese argued that mortgage repayments as a percentage of disposable income were around 6% below the average since mid-1986. My colleague, Houses


Central london property bubbles again

By Leith van Onselen Above is an interesting video from the Financial Times about the Central London property bubble, which appears to have re-emerged on the back of heavy foreign buying. The video contains loads of interesting charts and analysis. For example, there’s this chart plotting Greater London property values against those in Miami (rebased


Residex challenges data provider’s rosy view of housing market

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, Residex released its house and unit price results for the month of August. According to Residex, house prices nationally fell by -0.8% over the month, although prices rose across most of Australia’s sub-markets: Results were better for the unit market, with prices down by only -0.06%, with mixed results across


Australia’s record quarterly job losses

By Leith van Onselen Last week’s ANZ Australian Economic Update provided some interesting analysis of the quarterly labour force statistics, released last week by the ABS. The ANZ Update showed a labour market that is deteriorating, with job losses starting to mount, especially in the construction and public sectors. After examining the data myself, which