Leith van Onselen


Construction sector job losses mount

By Leith van Onselen Fairfax’s Adele Ferguson today published an important article on the growing number of collapses in the building industry, where at least two companies a day are going under, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria: The latest statistics on liquidations and voluntary administrations show that since January 1 more than 363


Auction clearances hold firm

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearances held firm over the weekend in Australia’s two largest markets, with both New South Wales and Victoria recording clearance rates in line with their year-to-date averages, but auction volumes remaining relatively subdued. In New South Wales, a provisional clearance rate of 62% was recorded by the REINSW, just below


Free money is just not working

Please find below former Reserve Bank of New Zealand advisor and multiple CEO, Terry “Macca” McFadgen’s, latest ‘Maccanomics’ article, which tackles the current malaise affecting the global economy and examines why the large-scale ‘money printing’ by the world’s central banks isn’t working.  Enjoy! I can handle the despair…it’s the hope that I can’t deal with!”


Mad Melbourne

By Leith van Onselen What’s wrong with the below story? 1. Melbourne home sales have tanked, tracking -42% below the five-year average and -36% lower than last year’s sales activity: 2. Mortgage demand in Victoria has collapsed, with the number of mortgage discharges (mortgages repaid in-full) actually exceeding the number of mortgage lodgements (new mortgages)


Housing completions hit decade low

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released building activity data for the March quarter, the highlight of which is the sharp contraction in dwelling completions. According to the ABS, there were only 32,557 (seasonally-adjusted) dwellings completed in the March quarter, which is a decade low (see below chart). The


New car sales ease

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released new motor vehicle sales for the month of June, which registered a seasonally adjusted -0.6% fall over the month, led by Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern territory: Despite the monthly dip, the below charts show that the trend in new car sales


More failed arguments for population growth

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, WAM Capital’s Matthew Kidman wrote a article in Business Day arguing that Australia must increase population growth, in particular immigration, or it risks destroying the economy. Let’s take a look. THE first policy a new federal government should dust off when elected next year is ”Big Australia”… The reality is


Lending finance easing

By Leith van Onselen The ABS this morning released Lending Finance data for the month of May, which delivered a mixed bag: In seasonally-adjusted terms, personal finance rose by 0.4%, but is essentially flat over the year: Commercial finance fell sharply (-12%) in May, reversing last month’s strong rise, and remains -5.7% lower over the


Auction clearance rates rebound

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearance rates over the weekend rebounded in Australia’s two largest markets. In New South Wales, the clearance rate of 63% was an improvement on last week’s 59%. However, auction volumes remain well down on ‘normal’ levels, with only 272 auctions reported over the weekend. This compares to 350 reported auctions


R.P.Data monthly housing wrap

Find below the R.P. Data monthly update. I caution against taking the R.P.Date daily index too literally. It’s the trend that matters and despite a better May, the larger trend is still down. Not to mention the new index is very volatile. These videos could learn this lesson. It doesn’t help credibility to leap between


A poor employment report

By Leith van Onselen As reported by Houses & Holes earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released labour force data for the month of June, which paints a deteriorating picture of the Australian jobs market. While the headline unemployment rate rose by only 0.1% to 5.2%, it is the internals of the


Macro Investor: Developer-friendly governments to weigh on house prices

While both Sydney and Melbourne house prices have fallen since October 2010, supply-side factors have meant the trajectory of those falls has been vastly different. Sydney’s bona fide housing shortage is supporting prices. Melbourne, on the other hand, has a supply glut. Recent reforms to land use and construction policy in both cities threaten investor hopes for


Housing finance falls in May

By Leith van Onselen The ABS has just released housing finance data for the month of May, which registered a -1.2% fall in the number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments, well below the consensus forecast of a 0.8% rise. Arguably, the most important figure in the release is the number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments


Victorian deleveraging accelerates

By Leith van Onselen The Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) earlier this week released data on the number of housing transfers and mortgage lodgements/discharges. Like the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) data, which was analysed yesterday, the Victorian DSE statistics are current to June 2012, so they lead the Australian


RP Data contradicts RBA dwelling price-to-income ratio

By Leith van Onselen Last year, I published an article, How the RBA undervalued housing, which questioned the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) official dwelling price-to-income ratio that claimed that Australian capital city home values were only around five times annual household disposable incomes as at June 2010: Using alternative income data, derived from the


REIV goes into bat for Melbourne

By Leith van Onselen Following recent negative press about the dire state of Melbourne’s fringe housing estates, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) yesterday argued that rental vacancies in Melbourne’s outer suburbs are the city’s tightest and that rents are likely to rise. From Property Observer: Melbourne’s outer suburbs continued to have the lowest


Auction clearance still lousy

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearance rates over the weekend were 59% in Sydney and 55% in Melbourne. This compares to a year-to-date average of 62% and 61% respectively, according to the Real Estate Institutes of New South Wales and Victoria. In New South Wales, the clearance rate of 59% was an improvement on last


MSM embraces housing doom

By Leith van Onselen In case you missed it, The Sunday Age yesterday ran a great article on the epic housing supply glut that is affecting Melbourne where, according to SQM research, the number of homes for sale has hit a record high, around double 2008 levels: Here are some key extracts from the Sunday


Bogan exodus accelerates

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures for May, which contained more bad news for the tourism industry. Short-term visitor arrivals decreased a seasonally adjusted -1.7% over the month, whereas short-term resident departures rose by more by 1.5%. In the 12 months to


Unemployment gulf revisited

By Leith van Onselen As reported by Houses & Holes, Roy Morgan Research yesterday recorded a big 1.5% jump in its unemployment rate to 9.7% in the month of June. As explained previously, Roy Morgan measures employment differently from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which is Australia’s official provider of labour force data: According


Exports to China hit record high

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released trade data for the month of May, which has recorded a monthly trade deficit of -$285 million, up from -$26 million in April (revised down from a previously reported -$203 million). March’s deficit was also revised down to -$1,004 million from a


Macro Investor: The great property investor overhang

By Leith van Onselen. If there is one thing that separates the Australian housing market from most others, it’s the propensity for investors to leverage into buy-to-let properties in the face of negative income returns, in the expectation that capital appreciation will repay debt and interest. ‘Negative gearing’, as it is known in Australia, is


SQM stock on market release

By Leith van Onselen Following on from yesterday’s post on Melbourne’s record glut of unsold homes, please find below SQM Research’s press release assessing the stock on market as at June 2012. Figures released this week by property research house SQM Research reveal that the level of residential stock increased during the month of June


Retail sales defy European gloom

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the retail trade data for the month of May, which registered a solid bounce in retail sales that beat analyst’s expectations. In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales rose by 0.5% in the month of May and by 3.5% year-on-year – just ahead


Melbourne apartment boom goes ballistic (again!)

By Leith van Onselen There’s life in the Melbourne construction boom yet, with the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) building approvals data recording a seasonally-adjusted 27.3% (2,915 unit) rise in dwelling approvals in the month of May, led by Victoria where approvals rose by 32% (1,267 units): Victoria’s currently accounts for 36%