Leith van Onselen


RP Data April housing update

By Leith van Onselen Please find above the RP Data Housing Update for April, presented by Tim Lawless, which discusses the state-of-play of the Australian housing market as at end-March. This month’s video sees Lawless discussing the ongoing improvement in market conditions following the 2.8% quarterly increase in dwelling values, which was the strongest result


Australia the most expensive place for a date

By Leith van Onselen Following on from a range of ‘cost of living’ studies showing Australia to be amongst the world’s most expensive places to reside, Deutsche Bank has released the below index, which could interest some of MacroBusiness’ younger and more cash-strapped readers. Using a price parity calculation, Deutsche Bank has created the “cheap


Pettis: China not headed for disaster

By Leith van Onselen Above is an extract of a video interview on the Daily Ticker with Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University in Beijing, talking about the outlook for the Chinese economy. In the interview, Professor Pettis argues that China’s economy is neither “averting a disaster or heading for one“. Rather, China


The upsides of financial crisis in China

Cross-posted from The Conversation In recent months, talk of an emerging crisis in China’s financial sector has been getting louder. A few weeks ago such chatter reached a crescendo, at least in terms of a narrative, when two Nomura economists argued that China was looking increasingly like the US on the eve of the sub-prime


RBNZ: fix housing supply & temper credit

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) yesterday gave a speech (below) entitled Perspectives on housing, which provided a useful overview of some of the factors driving New Zealand’s housing market and monetary/prudential policy. Below are some key extracts. On housing and the New Zealand economy: The RBNZ notes that New


Links 9 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: Soros says gold’s safe haven status is “destroyed” – Market Oracle BitCult – FT Alphaville Fed warned to rein in QE – Financial Times Is the recovery dying? – Econbrowser North America: Structural Employment Problems – The Big Picture Productivity, “reindustrialisation” and the US profit share – FT Alphaville Weak Jobs Report Is


Master builders’ sentiment shows promise

By Leith van Onselen The Master Builders Association (MBA) has released its Builder Sentiment Survey for the March quarter of 2013, which revealed an improvement in sentiment over the medium-term, but ongoing subdued levels of activity in the short-term: Pick up in builders’ expectations for industry The index measuring expectations for building industry activity picked


Australian property auction clearances ease

By Leith van Onselen The auction clearance rate in Australia’s biggest auction market – Melbourne – recorded a reasonable result over the weekend, with 65% of the 443 auctions reported to the REIV selling, with only 10 auctions listed as “no result” (see below table). The result compares to the 68% provisional clearance rate rate


Australian property listings rise in March

By Leith van Onselen SQM Research has released Stock on Market data for the month of March, which revealed a 3.8% increase in listings nationally over the month but a -2.1% decrease over the year (see below table). From the media release: Sydney recorded the largest rise in listings; rising by 7.6% or 1,966 properties.


Construction materials companies under pressure

By Leith van Onselen In February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released construction materials volumes data for the December quarter of 2012, which showed continued weakness in the production of concrete blocks, clay bricks and roof tiles – materials typically used in housing construction – but ongoing strength in the consumption of cement and


Closing tax loopholes is not revenue grabbing

Please find below an interesting post from economist, Matt Cowgill, questioning the level of tax expenditures on Australian superannuation. Be sure to also check out Matt’s blog, We Are All Dead, which examines a wide range of political and economic policy issues. Imagine if everyone with a surname starting with the letter C didn’t have


Links 8 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: IMF’s Lagarde Says Substantial Part of Global Economy Better – Bloomberg Analysis: Big inflows into bonds undercut the Great Rotation – Reuters Beware of those who cry ‘bubble’ about bonds – USA Today North America: Some Senators Think Big U.S. Banks Could Use An Extra Trillion Dollars Or So Of Capital – Dealbreaker


Super changes won’t lead to a sustainable system

Cross-posted from The Conversation Today, the Australian government announced additional taxation of high income funds in the decumulation or retirement stage of investments in superannuation. Arguably, the changes add more to complexity than they do to equity, and they leave open the need for further changes to achieve a sustainable system. In principle, funds invested


Property Council: “60,000 construction jobs lost”

By Leith van Onselen The Property Council yesterday claimed that around 60,000 construction workers are jobless following a three-year recession affecting the sector amid a sharp slowing of housing construction and renovation activity. From the Australian: ALMOST 60,000 construction workers who lost their jobs amid the global financial crisis are still unemployed, as the sector


The Business (ABC TV) tackles housing supply

By Leith van Onselen For those who are interested, I last night appeared on The Business (ABC TV) to discuss the role played by planning constraints in driving-up house prices and making housing markets more susceptible to price volatility (boom/bust price cycles). The video segment is shown above. Note that in the interview, which went


Have Aussies embraced apartment living?

By Leith van Onselen The latest dwelling approvals data, released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), confirmed that apartment living is growing ever more popular across Australia, but particularly in Australia’s larger and more expensive capitals. While house approvals are at recessionary levels, unit & apartment approvals are running near their all-time high


Melbourne building boom drawing to a close?

By Leith van Onselen As noted previously, Melbourne has, since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, led the nation in housing construction. The recent boom in housing construction is easily recognisable by the below charts, which track the total number of dwelling approvals in the five major capitals since the late-1980s, as well as


Links 5 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: Koo: Currency Markets Misinterpreting QE – Pragmatic Capitalism QE Forever? – Naked Capitalism Japan and UK must lead way to reflation – Financial Times North America: Don’t panic – financial reform is coming to America – Financial Times Fed member hints at summer slowing of QE3 – Financial Times Should Fed Raise Rates


Inequality rising, but more people better-off

Cross-posted from The Conversation After several decades of unprecedented growth, have the benefits trickled down to all Australians? The answer according, to a new study by the Productivity Commission, is a resounding “yes … probably, but it’s hard to say”. It’s an honest assessment. What the study does show is that: more people are working;


Dwelling approvals lift for houses & units

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released dwelling approvals data for the month of February. At the national level, the number of dwelling approvals rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.1% to 13,371, with both detached house (+4.2%) and apartment (+1.6%) approvals rising. Consensus was for a total rise of


Retail sales surge

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released retail sales figures for the month of February, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 1.3% increase over the month versus an expected 0.3% rise. The result was strengthened by an upward revision to December’s figures to 1.2% from 0.9% previously. Retail sales appear to


AFG sees ongoing FHB weakness in NSW & QLD

By Leith van Onselen Australian Finance Group (AFG) yesterday released its housing finance data for the month of March, which registered the Group’s strongest March mortgage sales on record, with 7,893 finance commitments (valued at $3,181 million) over the month, an improvement of 8.6% on March 2012 and 0.9% above the previous best March in


How to fix new home sales (and how not to)

By Leith van Onselen As summarised by Houses & Holes, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) yesterday released new home sales data for the month of February, which registered an overall -5.3% fall in new home sales over the month, with detached house sales falling by -4.0% and unit sales falling by -11.0%. It was a


Housing bust plunges Dutch into economic crisis

By Leith van Onselen I have noted previously (here, here, and here), how the Netherlands housing system all but guarantees unaffordable housing and a susceptibility to housing bubbles, via: ridiculously easy credit, with a third of mortgages guaranteed by the government; mortgage interest tax relief and generous subsidies offered to home buyers; a dysfunctional rental


Links 4 April 2013

Global Macro/Markets: The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency – medium.com The problem with Bitcoin – Financial Times When memory becomes money; the story of Bitcoin so far – Financial Times Four Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy Bitcoins – Forbes Banks take bearish view on yellow metal – Financial Times North America: How the Fed