Leith van Onselen


US housing market continues to recover

By Leith van Onselen The US Census Bureau last night released housing construction data for the month of March, which confirmed the ongoing recovery in US housing. According to the Census Bureau, the number of dwelling starts increased by 7.0% in March to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1,036,000, which was the highest level


Bloomberg: Australia should prepare for worse

By Leith van Onselen While local economic commentators see Australia having “the perfect economy”, many offshore commentators, most notably Michael Pettis, see an economy that has become increasing undiversified and far too dependent on the mining sector and China to drive employment and growth. This outsider’s view is encapsulated nicely by Bloomberg’s Asia Pacific correspondent, William


Auckland housing goes bananas

By Leith van Onselen Please find above a cracking interview between Interest.co.nz’s Gareth Vaughan and John Bolton, principal of Squirrel Mortgage Brokers, discussing the Auckland housing market. As readers might recall, last week Auckland’s stratified median house price hit $600,000 for the first ever time, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, following


The Budget is toast for whoever rules

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, Jessica Irvine has posted an interesting article on Business Spectator on the budgetary headaches facing the federal government as the commodity price boom unwinds: At one point, nominal GDP was growing 7 per cent plus a year, while the real economy grew just 3 or 4 per cent. As commodity


Links 17 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: Response to the Kouk’s claim that gold is a novelty; a useless bubble – Bullion Baron How the violent gold collapse may pose a systemic risk to the financial system – Quartz Serious flaws in Reinhart-Rogoff’s public debt-to-GDP analysis – Rorty Bomb North America: The Outlook for the National and Local Economy –


What now for Browse Basin gas?

Cross-posted from The Conversation Last Friday, Woodside announced it would no longer be developing a gas processing plant at James Price Point in Western Australia. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by environmental groups. But this is by no means the death knell for gas development in the Browse Basin. Peter Coleman, CEO and Managing


NSW releases planning white paper

By Leith van Onselen Following on from this morning’s post on recent reforms by the NSW Government to boost housing supply, the Government today released its Planning White Paper, which attempts to “make NSW more competitive by improving decision making, providing more certainty and making it more cost effective to do business in the state”,


Personal finance spikes

By Leith van Onselen The ABS this morning released Lending Finance data for the month of February, which registered across-the-board seasonally-adjusted rises in all major categories (see next table). In seasonally-adjusted terms, the value of personal finance commitments rose by 2.8% and was up by 9.9% over the year: The value of lease finance commitments


Car sales retrace again

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released new motor vehicle sales for the month of March, which registered a seasonally-adjusted -0.6% fall in sales over the month – the third consecutive monthly decrease – but a 4.5% increase in sales over the year: In seasonally adjusted terms, four of the


SA Property Council has no shame

By Leith van Onselen Over the weekend, it was revealed that the South Australian Property Council is lobbying the State Government to provide low interest home loans and cover relocation costs to attract displaced workers from the Eurozone into South Australia. From Adelaide Now: UNEMPLOYED skilled workers in economically ravaged countries should be offered low-interest


NSW continues reforms to housing supply

By Leith van Onselen The NSW O’Farrell Government continues to chip away at Sydney’s planning system, eschewing the former government’s meme that “Sydney is full” in favour of greater openness to urban growth. In October last year, the O’Farrell Government abolished the $7,000 First Home Owner’s Grant (FHOG) on pre-existing dwellings, replacing it with a


New home finance confirms modest recovery

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday’s housing finance data for February, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), contained some good news for the construction industry, with the number of finance commitments for new dwellings and construction increasing by a seasonally-adjusted 1.2% over the month and by 13.5% higher over the year, and is now


FHBs continue strike

By Leith van Onselen As noted yesterday by ANZ, the ABS’ housing finance figures for February 2013 revealed ongoing weak demand from first home buyers (FHBs). While the number of FHB mortgage commitments rose by 2% in February, they were down by -19% over the past year and were -39% below the 5-year moving average


Links 16 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: What Gold Bugs Are Saying – Business Insider Warren Buffett On Gold – Ivanhoff Capital What Are Gold’s Fundamentals ? – The Big Picture Gartman on Gold: We’ve Never Ever Seen Anything Like It – CNBC Citi: The Commodity Super Cycle Is Dead – CNBC The Antisocial Network of Bitcoins – New York


Weekly RP Data Property Wrap

By Leith van Onselen Please find below RP Data’s latest weekly housing market update, which provides a useful snapshot of the housing market as at 14 April 2013. This week’s report includes: Latest weekly dwelling value results; Latest median house & unit prices; Average time on market & vendor discounts; Auction results & clearance rates;


Housing finance beats expectations

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released housing finance data for the month of February, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 2.0% increase in the number of owner-occupied finance commitments over the month. It was the first increase in owner-occupied commitments for five months and beast analyst’s expectations of a 1.5%


London pushes UK house prices up

By Leith van Onselen UK house prices are reportedly on the increase again, with prices hitting a five-year high in March, driven by strong growth in London, according to Acadametrics LSL: London’s property market powered a seventh month of increases in U.K. house prices in March as values reached a five-year high, according to Acadametrics


Auction clearances lift

By Leith van Onselen The auction clearance rate in Australia’s biggest auction market – Melbourne – recorded a solid result over the weekend, with 70% of the 511 auctions reported to the REIV selling, but with 43 auctions listed as “no result”, which is likely to lead to downward revisions to the clearance rate as


Links 15 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: Can the Bond Market Really Be This Easy to Beat? – Wall Street Journal God is Making Gold Crash to Test Your Faith – The Reformed Broker Inflation targeting is not dead yet – Financial Times ETFs: Why They Are Dangerous – Barron’s The Gold Bubble Is Bursting: Who’s To Blame? – uneasymoney.com


Coal fired power hits decade low

Cross-posted from The Conversation Let’s be honest: the relationship between renewable energy and the electricity market is complex. So what does the latest report from Australian energy research firm RepuTex tell us? Well, for a start, coal-fired power has reached a ten-year low. The report, widely covered in the media, shows coal now makes up


More headwinds for Australian LNG

By Leith van Onselen I have written previously that Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports are coming under increasing pressure from the shale gas boom in the US, where there are currently 15 projects seeking approval to export US LNG to non-free trade agreement (FTA) countries, equivalent to around one-third of domestic US gas consumption,


Does Australian prosperity depend on immigration?

By Leith van Onselen A week ago, Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, pronounced that she supported ongoing high rates of immigration, seemingly reversing her opposition to a “Big Australia” articulated when she took over the leadership from Kevin Rudd: JULIA Gillard says Australia will continue to run “a sizeable immigration program” as she steers the


Canstar: Housing affordability worse over decade

By Leith van Onselen While the Housing Industry Association (HIA) claims that Australian housing is near its most affordable level in a decade (see below chart), analysis released by Canstar claims that average home loan repayments over the past ten years have outpaced both incomes and inflation, resulting in worsening housing affordability. Australians are putting


Weekly RP Data house price update

By Leith van Onselen In the week ended 11 April 2013, the RP Data-Rismark 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, recorded a minimal 0.02% increase, which followed last week’s -0.24% fall (see next chart). Value gains were mixed, with strong growth in the smaller capitals offset by falls


Links 12 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: Why Gold Sucks – Intelligent Investor IEA cuts oil demand growth forecast – Financial Times Monetary Policy In A Liquidity Trap – New York Times The Incredible Rise And Unprecedented Decline Of Gold ETFs [CHART] – Business Insider Is the Federal Reserve breeding the next financial crisis? – VOX North America: There’s still


Mad NZ property price boom

By Leith van Onselen It’s a sad day for younger non-home owning New Zealanders, with stratified median house prices hitting in excess of $400,000 nationally and $600,000 in Auckland for the first ever time in March, according to data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ). Nationally, New Zealand house prices


Employment in detail

By Leith van Onselen As summarised earlier by Houses & Holes, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released labour force data for the month of March, which reported a 0.2% lift in the headline unemployment rate to 5.6%, as well as a seasonally-adjusted -36,100 decrease in jobs across the economy, with a -7,400 decrease


The truth behind our ‘dangerous’ public debt

Cross-posted from The Conversation Liberal MP Andrew Robb has criticised the rise in public debt under the current Gillard government in a recent ABC radio interview. During the interview, Robb claimed growth in public debt was excessive and unsustainable, and accused Treasurer Wayne Swan of improperly representing the government’s current position on the public debt.