Leith van Onselen


NSW FHB’s drive housing finance

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released the November Housing Finance data. The overall value of dwelling commitments rose 2.1% seasonally adjusted in November, with owner-occupied commitments rising 2.2% and investor housing increasing 1.8%. In number terms, owner-occupied finance commitments rose 1.4%, led by the purchase of new dwellings


Global Risks in 2012

Please find below the full World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2012 Global Risks Report along with the summary discussion video. The WEF Global Risks Report is based on a survey of 469 experts from industry, government, academia and civil society that examines 50 global risks across five categories. This year’s Report contains discussion on a wide


Tourists continue to lie low

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures for November, which are largely uneventful. In seasonally adjusted terms, short-term visitor arrivals declined by -0.6%, offset by a corresponding -0.6% fall short-term resident departures. Taking a longer-term view, however, the ratio of tourism arrivals to departures remains at a 25-year low,


Job vacancies resume downward trend

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released job vacancies data for the November quarter, which fully reversed the increase of the previous quarter:   Total job vacancies in November 2011 were 182,200, a decrease of 0.8% from August 2011. The number of job vacancies in the private sector was 164,900 in November 2011, a


Approvals bounce in number, fall in value

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released dwelling approvals data for the month of November and it has been bandied about as both good news and weak news within the blogosphere and by the market. The headline number that is making news is a 8.4% increase in the number of


The luckiest of countries

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on Friday released a fascinating Research Discussion Paper entitled: Australia’s Prosperous 2000s: Housing and the Mining Boom, which formed part of The Australian Economy in the 2000s conference series. According to the RBA, the paper: …provides an overview of the Australian economy’s performance in the decade. Several key topics


Has Australia’s terms of trade peaked?

Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the International Trade in Goods and Services for the month of November. Australia’s trade surplus in November fell to $1,380 million from $1,418 million in October (revised down from $1,595 million). This figure was well below the Bloomberg consensus of $1,650 million. Export earnings (+0.2% mom) rose


UK first home buyers knackered

2011 was a strange year for the UK housing market. Home prices continued to track sideways, falling in real terms (see here for an explanation of the different indices): And affordability continued to improve: Yet, the number of first home buyers fell to its lowest level since records began in 1974: Around 187,000 people became


Commodity prices fall again in December

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) yesterday afternoon released its Index of Commodity Prices for the month of December. According to the release: Preliminary estimates for December indicate that the index fell by 1.0 per cent (on a monthly average basis) in SDR terms, after falling by 0.2 per cent in November (revised). The price of gold


RP Data home price index for December

By Leith van Onselen Please find below the RP Data December home price index press release which, for some reason, is still not available on their website. Here are the key figures taken from the release. First, the change in dwelling values: Note the -0.2% fall in raw (non-seasonally adjusted) capital city dwelling values and the -0.1% fall


Manufacturing activity flat in December

This morning, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) released the Performance of Manufacturing (PMI) index for December. At 50.2, manufacturing activity was broadly flat for the month of December, but rose by 2.4 points from November when manufacturing activity contracted: Overall, the report suggests that Australian manufacturing remains subdued, with falls evident in 7 of the 12


Private credit growth remains subdued

The RBA has just released its private sector credit aggregates for November: Total credit provided to the private sector by financial intermediaries rose by 0.3 per cent over November 2011, after rising by 0.2 per cent over October. Over the year to November, total credit rose by 3.5 per cent. Housing credit rose by 0.5


Home prices rise slightly in November

Just in, RP Data has released its home values index for November. Capital city home prices have risen by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% over the month and regional values by 0.3%. Here is the release on AAP via Business Spectator: Australia’s capital city home values rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.1 per cent in November, according to the RP Data-Rismark Home


Urban planning & economic performance

The UK Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC), which is in my opinion one of the world’s leading authorities on planning economics, recently released a Policy Paper entitled  What we Know (and Don’t Know) About the Links between Planning and Economic Performance (provided below). The Policy Paper summarises the impact of the UK’s land-use planning on economic performance,


RP Data expects ‘slow melt’ to continue

Missed this one last week. RP Data has released its 2012 Outlook, which forecasts a continued thawing of Australian home values: 2012 2011 has certainly been a tough year for the residential property market with property values falling across most capital cities and regional markets and the number of transactions also decreasing in most regions.  According to the October


Why developers land bank

Land banking is a common practice adopted by developers, whereby they accumulate land for development well before the date at which they intend to sub-divide and build new housing. In modern production processes, “just-in-time” systems – where inputs into the production process are received/acquired just prior to use – are favoured because they reduce the


When bubbles bite back

A cracking article was published yesterday in Caixin, discussing how China’s local governments, which are addicted to revenue from land sales, are feeling the pinch now that the volumes of land sales and prices are falling. The article also illustrates the corruption endemic within the Chinese economy: The development-ready land market, long a reliable revenue


Puru Saxena’s alarm rings true

Back in March, I posted an audio interview with Puru Saxena, who runs Puru Saxena Wealth Management, an established money management firm based in Hong Kong. Saxena produces the monthly Money Matters report, which follows economic, historical and geo-political trends, and explores investment opportunities in unpopular and distressed markets. It was a fascinating interview where


Westpac-Melbourne Leading Index stalls

The Westpac-Melbourne Leading Index,  which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, has fallen to 2.6% in October 2011 from 4.4% in August. According to Westpac Chief Economist, Bill Evans: “The growth rate in the Index has slowed from the 4.4% which was reported for August and is now back


Melbourne rental vacancies continue to rise

From SQM Research’s weekly newsletter comes the news that Melbourne’s rental vacancy rates again rose in the month of November, climbing to 3.4%: According to SQM Research: It seems that overall, rental vacancies remained reasonably steady throughout the country with the exception of Melbourne, whose vacancies continue to increase from month to month. SQM Research would now


Here comes the Chinese burn

Over the last few days, a large selection of articles have appeared exposing cracks within the Chinese economy and suggesting that the China’s housing bubble might finally have burst. Paul Krugman, has finally weighed-in to the China debate drawing eerie parallels with the 1980s Japanese economy: Consider the following picture: Recent growth has relied on


Banks reliving 2008

Yesterday, Houses and Holes penned a cracking post questioning the Australian banks’ gigantic external liabilities that are exposing the financial system to the risk of a sudden liquidity shock, and have placed Australian taxpayers on the hook for potential bank bailouts. For added context, please find below two charts summarising the banks’ offshore funding exposures.


Charting Australia’s population growth

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released the Australian Demographic Statistics for the June Quarter 2011. Below are a series of charts summarising the key trends relating to Australia’s population growth. First, a chart showing net overseas migration (NOM), which measures in/out migration of anyone residing/leaving Australia for a period of 12 months or


Younger Aussies feeling the pinch

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Bulletin noted how high housing costs are disproportionately affecting younger Australians: Median housing debt-to-income ratio for Australians under 39 years of age has risen 29 per cent in the six-year period to June 2010, compared to the 20 per cent rise for the oldest Australians in the


NZPC hits the mark on housing supply

The New Zealand Productivity Commission (PC) on Friday released its draft report on housing affordability. Below is a video discussing the PC’s draft findings (via Interest.co.nz). The PC report correctly identifies regulatory constraints on land/housing supply as the key impediment to affordable housing. Below are some key extracts from the report discussing the supply-side of the New Zealand housing


12 predictions for 2012

Please find below former Reserve Bank of New Zealand advisor and multiple CEO, Terry “Macca” McFadgen’s, predictions for the year ahead. Do not take them too seriously. As noted by Macca, predictions are “foolhardy and discredited”, and this exercise is just for fun. Feel free to provide your own predictions for the year ahead in


The demographic time bomb

Interest.co.nz’s Bernard Hickey yesterday published the below chart showing the projected decline in the number of workers per retiree in a cross-section of major economies: The chart nicely summarises the population ageing dilemma facing much of the world, whereby economies are likely to face sharply slowing economies, lower taxation receipts, higher aged care expenditures, and


Mapping WA’s mining boom

Reader a63 posted a comment linking to the latest edition of the Department of Minerals & Petroleum’s Prospect magazine. On pages 34 to 36 you will find some incredible statistics and maps of the massive mining-related investment currently underway or planned in Western Australia. According to the magazine, “There are currently more than A$180 billion