Leith van Onselen

38

Australia’s record quarterly job losses

By Leith van Onselen Last week’s ANZ Australian Economic Update provided some interesting analysis of the quarterly labour force statistics, released last week by the ABS. The ANZ Update showed a labour market that is deteriorating, with job losses starting to mount, especially in the construction and public sectors. After examining the data myself, which

36

Car sales hit all-time high

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released new motor vehicle sales for the month of August, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 3.6% rise over the month, with gains in all states and territories except for Tasmania, and a 6.4% increase over the year: At 93,379 sales for the month, it was

32

Auction clearances dip on higher volumes

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearance rates fell slightly over the weekend in Australia’s two major markets, although volumes were up significantly. In New South Wales, a provisional auction clearance rate of 58% was recorded from 436 auctions reported to the REINSW. This compares to a provisional clearance rate of 63% recorded last weekend on

2

FT China overview

By Leith van Onselen Above is an interesting video overview of the Chinese economy by the Financial Times’ John Auther and James King. Of particular importance to Australia is the discussion on China’s steel industry, which is suffering from massive overcapacity – equivalent to Japan and the United States’ combined annual steel production – and

6

Rudd vs the Financial Times

By Leith van Onselen It’s interesting contrasting the views on display at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in China. On the one hand, you have those like former Prime Minister and current Government member, Kevin Rudd, who believes that China’s economy is experiencing  only a moderate slowdown in growth, which will pick-up again once government

27

Is China’s productivity miracle over?

By Leith van Onselen Below is a facinating presentation by UBS’ George Magnus, which examines whether the Asian Miracle is coming to an end. Magnus’ sections on China are particularly pertinent for Australia. First, Magnus discusses China’s falling rates of productivity: In China, the higher contribution of TFP to economic growth in the 2000s shows

9

QLD mortgage lodgements surged in July

By Leith van Onselen Late last week, the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) released data on housing transfers and mortgage lodgements for the months of July and August. According to DERM, the number of mortgage transfers and mortgage lodgements surged by 32% and 35% respectively in July, before retracing -21% and -25%

9

NSW drives dwelling construction bounce

By Leith van Onselen The ABS has just released dwelling commencement data for the June quarter, which registered a 4.6% (1,497) increase in the number of dwellings that commenced construction over the quarter. Below is a time series chart showing the split at the national level: The construction of units & apartments drove the lift,

35

Vested interests squeal at FHOG changes

By Leith van Onselen As expected, vested interests have slammed the sensible changes to Queensland’s First Home Owners’ Grant (FHOG), in which the $7,000 grant on all dwellings will be replaced by a $15,000 grant on the purchase of new dwellings only. The REIQ strongly opposes the changes, arguing that first home buyers prefer established homes,

4

Chovanec on China’s mounting bad debts

By Leith van Onselen Above is a must watch video interview on CNN with Patrick Chovanec, an associate professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, talking about the mounting bad debt problems in China, and the likelihood of the Chinese economy experiencing a debt crisis, similar to that transpiring in Europe, or a replay of Japan’s

1

Lending finance mixed

By Leith van Onselen The ABS this morning released Lending Finance data for the month of July, which registered a mixed result: In seasonally-adjusted terms, personal finance rose by 0.1% to be up 4.4% over the year: Lease finance commitments also rose – up 3.4% over the month – and remains in a strong uptrend,

1

Are exports to China set to jump?

By Leith van Onselen An interesting piece of information arising from yesterday’s Chinese data dump was the increase in imports from Australia, which grew by 10.9% in the month of August and by 2.9%  over the year. A chart tracking Chinese imports from Australia (in USD) against Australian exports to China (in AUD) is shown

1

Housing finance falls in July

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released housing finance data for the month of July, which registered a seasonally-adjusted -1.0% fall in the number of owner-occupied finance commitments over the month. June’s results were also revised down by -3.4%. Arguably, the most important figure in the release is the

57

First home buyer grants bite the dust

The late-1990s and early-2000s were full of housing policy blunders, which helped fuel the explosion of Australian home prices. In 1999, the Federal Government halved the rate of Capital Gains Tax, which encouraged (in concert with negative gearing) a surge of negatively geared property investment. This blunder was followed by the introduction of the $7,000

7

Auction clearance rates dip on low volumes

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearance rates fell slightly over the weekend in Australia’s two major markets, with both states also recording low volumes. In New South Wales, a provisional auction clearance rate of 63% was recorded from 396 auctions reported to the REINSW. This compares to a provisional clearance rate of 64% recorded last

33

Oz elite skewered on China

By Leith van Onselen Above is a very pointed video interview with Dr John Lee, associate professor at the Centre for International Security Studies, Sydney University, and a non-resident senior scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. In the interview, Dr Lee outlines the fragility of the Chinese economy, and explains some of the downside

29

Trade deficit worsens

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released trade data for the month of July, with Australia recording a big seasonally-adjusted increase in its trade deficit to -$556 million, from -$227 million in June. May and June’s trade balances were also revised lower, from -$313 million to -644 million (May),

15

Employment in detail

By Leith van Onselen As reported by the Houses & Holes earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released labour force data for the month of August, which reported a slight reduction in the headline unemployment rate to 5.1% from 5.2% in July, but a decrease in the total number of jobs across the

47

Victoria continues to deleverage

By Leith van Onselen The Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE) released transfer and mortgage data for the month of August, which shows continued weakness in the number of housing transfers and finance commitments. First, below is a chart showing the rolling annual number of housing transfers from February 2003 to May 2012: According

16

GDP in detail

By Leith van Onselen As noted by Houses and Holes earlier today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released the national accounts for the June quarter, which registered a 0.6% increase in real GDP over the quarter and a 3.7% rise over the year. The market had expected GDP to increase by 0.7% over

14

Bogans shift to Singapore

By Leith van Onselen News got worse for Australia’s tourism industry yesterday, with the release of the overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures for July showing a record number of departures over the year. Short-term visitor arrivals fell by -2.9% in July, partly offset by a -0.4% decrease in short-term resident departures. In the 12

23

Stock on market lifts in August

By Leith van Onselen From SQM Research comes the news that the number of homes listed for sale nationally increased by 1.5% in August to be up 3.0% from a year ago: From the media release: Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne all recorded substantial monthly increases – 8.8%, 5.9% and 5.9% respectively. Canberra’s large monthly increase

85

WSJ: Australia has no “Plan B”

Above is an interesting video interview by the Wall Street Journal discussing Australia’s exposure to the downturn in commodity prices, in particular iron ore. It seems the world has woken-up to the fact that the Australian economy is dangerously undiversified and overly exposed to one sector of one economy: Chinese construction. The question now is:

11

Construction downturn hits the capital

By Leith van Onselen Last month, I noted how Canberra had recently experienced a mini-construction boom, particularly in units & apartments, which is starting to unwind, threatening jobs in the construction industry: Now, it appears the chickens are coming home to roost, with the Canberra Times reporting a swathe of building company collapses as housing

14

Iron ore exploration expenditure explodes

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released Mineral & Petroleum Exploration data, which revealed a slight easing in exploration expenditure after last release’s record. Nationally, expenditure on minerals exploration fell -$76.7 million in the June half, with petroleum exploration expenditure also falling by -$157.7 million (see below chart). Expected mineral and

9

Retail sales retrace

By Leith van Onselen‘ The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the retail trade data for the month of July, which registered a “surprise” fall in retail sales that disappointed analyst’s expectations. In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales fell by -0.8% in the month of July to be up by 3.5% year-on-year. Analysts

28

Auction clearance rates hold firm

By Leith van Onselen Auction clearance rates held firm over the weekend in Australia’s two major markets. In New South Wales, a provisional auction clearance rate of 64% was recorded from 430 auctions reported to the REINSW. This compares to a provisional clearance rate of 61% recorded last weekend on 314 auctions, and a year-to-date