Unconventional Economist

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The housing-retail link

Feedback loops are an important concept in finance and economics. In a nutshell, positive feedback loops are pro-cyclical in that they act to make an economy more volatile by accentuating booms and then busts. By contrast, negative feedback loops are counter-cyclical in that they act to reduce volatility and make an economy more stable by

45

Just say it, Shane

AMP Capital Investors chief economist, Shane Oliver, is a curious beast. Recently he has been arguing that Australian housing is not a bubble. Here’s an example of Dr Oliver’s “no bubble” thesis from an article published yesterday in SmartCompany: I don’t regard Australian house prices as a bubble. While there was probably a bubble seven or eight

15

NZ moves to quarantine negative gearing

When it comes to recent banking/housing policy, our Kiwi cousins across the pond have it all over us Aussies. Back in April, I wrote about three policy actions being undertaken by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) and the New Zealand Government aimed at reducing the economy’s exposure to the housing market and improving financial

21

Hats off to a true banker

It takes courage and conviction to speak-out against the interests that employ you. Doing so can cause ridicule from peers and risks damaging one’s career prospects. So when Joseph Healy, business banking head of National Australia Bank (NAB), last year spoke-out against the Australian banks’ bias toward housing lending, I was suitably impressed. Here’s an

41

Structure or cycle in housing?

Michael Yardney is a prominent property investor/advisor who writes a regular blog on Smart Company. Last week, Mr Yardney posted an article entitled What history can teach us about what’s ahead for property, which is aimed at calming nerves about the Australian housing market and convincing readers that residential housing is still a superior long-term

34

China sneezes, Australia calls an ambulance

To state the bleeding obvious, Australia’s economic fortunes are linked to the Chinese economy. China is Australia’s largest export destination, with its export share having grown from around 5% in 2000 to 22% in 2009 (see below IMF chart): And according to GMO, China alone accounts for nearly half of the world’s consumption of Australia’s

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Stagnation nation

The claim that Australian home prices will stagnate whilst incomes catch-up is a prediction commonly made by housing commentators. And this view is not without precedent. Between 2004 and 2009, Sydney home prices remained relatively flat, meaning that prices fell in both inflation-adjusted and income-adjusted terms (see below chart). It behooves us then to assess the

8

RBNZ tells it straight

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) today released its biannual Financial Stability Report (FSR).  For years, I have been a keen reader of the FSR as it provides an alternate view to the biannual Financial Stability Review released by the Reserve Bank of Australia in March and September. I also follow events closely in

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Crash testing

As mentioned by Delusional Economics yesterday, the bastion of the Aussie punter, David Koch, has issued a warning that Australian home values are on the slide. The question now is how far will prices fall and over what time period? SQM Research’s Louis Christopher recently issued a newsletter predicting falls of 5-10%, whereas many bank

17

Mortgage madness

Houses and Holes today posted a nice summary of the recently released report from the Senate Inquiry into Competition within the Australian banking sector. While there are some sensible recommendations in the report, including establishing a broad ranging inquiry into the Australian financial system, there are some absolute shockers aimed at increasing the availability of

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The 1980s Texas housing bubble myth

Over the past few months, I have argued feverishly that housing markets with responsive land supply are both more affordable and less prone to bubbles/busts than markets where land supply is constrained by physical and/or regulatory barriers. In many of these articles, I have used Texas as an example of a housing market largely free

20

The century of old age

As mentioned previously, the 21st century will be the century of old age, where declining birth rates meet longer life expectancies. This ageing of the population will affect many areas of the international economy, from consumption and growth to asset valuations. The impacts from ageing will likely be most acute in Western Nations, although some developing countries, most

24

What’s that hissing sound?

In today’s SQM Research weekly newsletter, SQM’s Managing Director, Louis Christopher, provides a sobering assessment of the state of Australia’s housing market. Below are the key extracts, together with some charts and data added for additional context. “The housing market’s downturn is now happening at pace and there is no imminent recovery in sight. These

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Unemployment and house prices

Following on from Popping Bubble’s recent post, Australia’s low level of unemployment is often held-up as a reason why home values won’t fall. According to this argument, home values will remain supported as long as people have jobs and can continue meeting their mortgage repayment obligations. For example, in last year’s infamous CBA investor presentation,

8

Housing credit to remain subdued

A joint report from JPMorgan and Fujitsu Australia predicts that housing credit growth will remain subdued for an extended period: The three-month annualised growth rate [of housing credit] dropped from nine per cent in September 2010 to 6.7 per cent in February 2011 and is unlikely to return to double-digit growth rates seen before the

34

Negative gearing on the nose

Over the past two months, the calls to wind-back negative gearing have grown louder, spearheaded by Fairfax media. In early March, Fairfax’s Michael McNamara wrote a fantastic article arguing to abolish negative gearing. This article was followed up in Fairfax by Saul Eslake, who lambasted Australia’s dysfunctional tax system, especially negative gearing, for the way in which it

19

“Negative equity” hits thousands of WA homeowners

Earlier this month, the Western Australian (WA) Chamber of Commerce noted that the WA economy had fallen into technical recession, experiencing two successive quarters of negative economic growth in the last six months of 2010:  Western Australia is generally regarded as Australia’s economic engine room with its booming resources sector, but its manufacturing and retail sectors are struggling. The WA Chamber

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Here comes the budget pain

Last week’s article, Hooked on property, provided some detailed facts and figures from RP Data highlighting how Australia’s state and local governments are addicted to property-related taxes, and discussed how these revenues are expected to fall precipitously as housing sales decline and prices stagnate. The article concluded with the following statement: Over the past decade,

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Looking beyond interest rates

Sam Birmingham runs a top quality networking site for young professionals called WeBe, which provides up-to-date information on financial matters, work-related issues, lifestyle news and reviews, and current affairs and opinion pieces. WeBe also provides a platform where members can have their voices heard, express opinions and share ideas with other like-minded Young Professionals. Yesterday,

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Irish bust video

Max Keiser yesterday posted a video exposé (below) on the damage caused by the bursting of the Irish housing bubble and how the bad debts of the Irish banks have been transferred to Irish taxpayers (h/t Mish and Rota Fortuna). For readers unfamiliar with what happened in Ireland, consider reading my December article, Unluck of the

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NZ considers new tools to combat housing bubbles

Earlier this month, I wrote about two policy actions being undertaken by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) and the New Zealand Government aimed indirectly at reducing the economy’s exposure to the housing market. These measures included: the Open Bank Resolution (OBR) Policy, which seeks to protect taxpayers from funding future bank bailouts; and

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Roubini calls time on China (part 2)

Earlier this month, Houses and Holes posted a report from Professor Nouriel Roubini warning that the Chinese economy is overheating and risks a sharp slowdown sometime after 2013. Now Professor Roubini has followed up with an article on Project Syndicate fleshing-out his views in greater detail. Professor Roubini  more or less supports earlier warnings from Michael Pettis and prominent China

41

Hooked on property

In January this year, I published the below HIA chart and accused Australia’s governments of being ponzi merchants for attempting to keep the Great Australian Housing Bubble alive by pumping demand and restricting supply in order to preserve government finances. Now RP Data has confirmed my suspicions with a fantastic piece of research entitled Property

18

Moody’s downgrades China’s property sector

Just in, credit rating agency, Moody’s Investor Services, has downgraded China’s property sector to negative from stable, citing both falling property sales and prices [my emphasis]: Hong Kong, April 14, 2011 — In a new report, Moody’s Investors Service changes its outlook for the China property sector to negative from stable. The change reflects the

13

Andy Xie on China

Andy Xie, an independent economist based in Shanghai and the former Morgan Stanley chief Asia-Pacific economist, yesterday published an excellent article in Caixin warning that an inefficient public sector and negative real interest rates are pushing China towards stagflation, instability and a possible financial crisis (h/t interest.co.nz). Xie’s article more or less supports earlier warnings

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Lessons from the UK housing crash

It’s time for another trip down memory lane. It’s September 2007 and home prices in London have just started to fall, but are still holding up nationally (see below chart). UK households are growing increasingly nervous. After embarking on an almighty borrowing binge over the 2000s, as evident by household debt to disposable incomes rising

12

Tax stats unmask investors

The 2008-09 Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Taxation Statistics were released yesterday (available here), and the data on property investment was very interesting. First, the number of property investors reporting to the ATO fell by 34,000 or 2% from the previous year (see below chart). Second, after rising steadily since 1999-00, the overall value of net

15

SQM Research on the housing finance data

As my fellow MacroBusiness bloggers have already pointed out, Australia’s housing finance data released today by the ABS was bad, real bad. One of Australia’s few truely independent property analysts, the Managing Director of SQM Research, Louis Christopher, offered perhaps the most damning assessment via a series of Tweets: Home loans drop on weak demand