Unconventional Economist


Car sales contract in April

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released new motor vehicle sales data for the month of April: On a seasonally adjusted basis, new motor vehicle sales fell by -0.7% in April, but were 7.3% higher over the year. The reduction in sales over the month was driven by passenger


State austerity to hit growth

By Leith van Onselen Last month, I noted how Australian State Government Budgets are under increasing pressure from falling stamp duty receipts on the back of the slowing property market: …last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released Government finance statistics for the 2010-11 financial year, which revealed that Australia’s state and territory governments


First home buyers desert housing market

By Leith van Onselen Back in February, I made the following comments with regards to the upswing in housing finance commitments in December 2011 on the back of strong first home buyer (FHB) demand: No doubt the housing-addicted broader media will argue that the recent upswing in housing finance commitments, as well as the renewed interest from FHBs,


Mortgage finance flat in March

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the March Housing Finance data this morning, which was largely a non-event. According to the ABS, in seasonally adjusted terms, the number of commitments for owner occupied housing finance (46,275) rose by 0.3% in the month of March, with the total value of dwelling


Solid employment in detail

By Leith van Onselen As The Prince reported earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the labour force data for the month of April, and like last month’s print, it is very good. In seasonally adjusted terms, total employment increased 15,500 (0.1%) to 11,501,000. Full-time employment decreased 10,500 (0.1%) to 8,062,800 and


Leith van Onselen on the wireless

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking part in a radio interview on the Renegade Economists show, which aired on 3CR Community Radio. In a wide ranging interview, Prosper Australia’s Karl Fitzgerald (host) and I discussed, amongst other things, the evolution of MacroBusiness.com.au and Tuesday’s Federal Budget. The interview can be streamed here. Readers can also access past Renegade Economist


Bogan exodus surges

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released overseas short-term arrivals and departures figures for March, which contained mixed fortunes for the tourism industry. While short-term visitor arrivals increased by 1.9% over the month in seasonally adjusted terms, short-term resident departures rose by more, increasing by 3.0%. In the 12


Weekly RP Data house price analysis

By Leith van Onselen It’s been a poor week for the Australian housing market, with the RP Data-Rismark daily home price index recording a -0.59% decline in national capital city home values in the week ending 9 May 2012. Australia’s three major capitals – Sydney (-1.20%), Melbourne (-0.55%), and Brisbane (-0.15%) – led the declines,


Housing lobby gets no Budget relief

By Leith van Onselen Well it didn’t take long, the Federal Budget has only just been released (it’s 9.00pm Tuesday as I write this post), and already the Housing Industry Association (HIA) is complaining that the Government didn’t offer incentives aimed at reinvigorating Australia’s ailing home building market: The Housing Industry Association, the voice of


Trade balance shocker to hit Q1 GDP

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released trade data for the month of March, and it’s an absolute shocker. In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services recorded a deficit of $1,587 million in March 2012, a rise of $833 million on the deficit recorded in February


Retail sales in perspective

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday’s strong retail sales figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), were generally greeted with enthusiasm in the media.  For instance, Bloomberg reported the result as follows: Australian retail sales rose at more than four times the pace that economists forecast, capping the best quarter since 2009 as consumers


Retail sales bounce back in March

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this morning released the retail trade data for the month of March, which registered a solid bounce in retail sales that beat analyst’s expectations. In seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales rose by 0.9% in the month of March and by 3.7% year-on-year – more or


Victoria’s total mortgages decline in April

By Leith van Onselen With the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) scheduled to release the March Housing Finance statistics next week, I thought it would be worthwhile to update readers on recently released Victorian Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE) transfer and mortgage data for the month of April, which shows continued weakness in the


April AFG seasonal adjustments

Please find below another guest post from MacroBusiness reader, Nathan Webb. Enjoy! The whole reason that I started looking at seasonal adjustments of the AFG volumes was that I couldn’t stand the erratic and false headlines that AFG were producing.  It’s a symptom of them not understanding what actually drives their monthly totals, which is


Reserve Bank of WBC cuts 0.37%

By Leith van Onselen Just in, Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC) has cut its variable mortgage rate by 0.37%, which follows the Bank of Queensland’s, National Australia Bank’s, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s announcements that they would reduce variable mortgage rates by 0.35%, 0.32%, and 0.40% respectively. WBC also announced that it would cut interest


RBNZ moves to prevent asset bubbles

By Leith van Onselen In April last year, outgoing Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) governor, Alan Bollard, muted introducing ‘maco-prudential’ tools to prevent the formation of future asset price bubbles: “[New Zealand needs] to keep preparing for how we might deal with credit and asset price booms when they recur in the future,” Bollard


SQM: Stock on market down in April

By Leith van Onselen SQM Research has released their stock on market data for April, which has registered a small fall in the number of homes for sale nationally, with stock levels largely unchanged from April 2011: However, there’s great divergence between the capital cities, with stock levels remaining highly elevated in Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart


Noosa’s property ground zero

By Leith van Onselen Earlier today, Houses and Holes posted on Genworth LMI’s worsening exposure to the Australian housing market. In the Genworth presentation attached to the post is the below chart, showing that a key driver of the increased insurance pay-outs (and the 1st quarter loss) was a sharp rise in mortgage delinquencies in


Treasury’s very long China boom

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Treasury yesterday released an interesting paper (below) as part of its Economic Round-up series, entitled China’s emergence in global commodity markets, which analyses the history of China’s demand for commodities and the potential path of future demand. As readers are probably aware, the rapid growth of commodity demand from


Comparing the big four house price indices

By Leith van Onselen It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with Australia’s four main housing data providers – the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Property Monitors (APM), RP Data-Rismark, and Residex – each providing their capital city house price indices results for March or April 2012. Those unfamiliar with these indices would be


ABS: House prices continue to fall

By Leith van Onselen The last of the major house price data providers, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), today released their capital city house price indices for the March quarter of 2012, which confirmed that the housing “slow melt” has continued. In seasonally adjusted terms, the price index for established houses for the weighted


Austerity beckons for Victoria

By Leith van Onselen Over the past two weeks (here and here) I have warned how the Victorian government is under increasing pressure from the state’s sharply slowing property market, which is acting to reduce growth and employment and has blown a $1.1 billion hole in the State Budget. Now it has been reported that the Victorian


Tax stats unmask negative gearing

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) today released its Taxation Statistics for the 2009-10 financial year, which once again revealed that Australia has become a nation of loss-making landlords. Below are the key tables from the ATO release. First, the summary of rental deductions for the 2009-10 and 2008-09 financial years: According


Private credit growth flat in March

By Leith van Onselen The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has just released the private sector credit aggregates data for the month of March: Total credit provided to the private sector by financial intermediaries rose by 0.4 per cent over March 2012, after rising by 0.4 per cent over February. Over the year to March,


Australian housing’s poor April

By Leith van Onselen RP Data-Rismark this morning released its daily home price indices for 30 April, which revealed that Australian capital city home values recorded a -0.73% fall over the month – the largest decline since January 2012 (-0.97%) and breaking two consecutive months of rises (+0.68% in February and +0.18% in March). The