Unconventional Economist


2012 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

The 8th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey has just been released and, once again, it ranks Australia as having one of the most expensive housing markets out of the countries surveyed. This year’s report assesses 325 markets in seven countries: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Crunching RPData’s revisions

Following is a guest post from regular commenter Nathan Webb: You could be easily forgiven for not noticing that RPData’s house price series is subject to revision. The revisions are usually difficult to find and seldom referred to in R.P.Data commentary. Nonetheless, they are there and run the numbers to see what they can tell us


Melbourne rental vacancies skyrocket

It seems that Melbourne’s booming dwelling construction is having the desired effect, with the state’s rental vacancy rate hitting a seven year high of 4.4% according to SQM research: This compares to the national rental vacancy rate of 2.4%: In both charts, there is an unmistakable seasonal element to a December spike but, equally, there’s


Examining average hours worked

Yesterday’s analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) December labour force data threw up the below chart showing how aggregate hours worked across the Australian economy rose in the month of December, but remains relatively flat compared with 12 months prior: Reader, Avid Chartist, requested that I provide a chart showing aggregate hours worked


Employment hangs on

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released the December labour force statistics and, like all of the releases this week, the data is mixed: On the positive side of the ledger, full time employment rose by 24,500 persons to 8,051,000, partly offsetting the heavy losses (-39,400) of the prior month. However, this increase


New car sales run out of road

Just released, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported that sales of new motor vehicles fell in December: Seasonally Adjusted – The December 2011 seasonally adjusted estimate for new motor vehicle sales (84 403) decreased by -2.9% when compared with November 2011. When comparing seasonally adjusted estimates for December 2011 with November 2011, sales


Victoria builds, builds and builds

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released building activity data for the September, which presents yet another mixed bag: The overall value of bulding work done was essentially flat over the quarter (up 0.1%), but with some major variances across sectors: The seasonally adjusted estimate of the value of new residential building work


Australia lucky but not immune

HSBC’s Chief Economist, Paul Bloxham, continued his recent solid work with an interesting Research Note on the resilience of the Australian economy, echoed today by Jessica Irvine. In the note, Bloxham argues that Australia’s economy is structurally sound, with the massive pipeline of mining investment likely to augment growth over 2012. He also argues that


Lending finance mixed

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released the November Lending Finance data, which has delivered a mixed result: The total value of owner occupied housing commitments excluding alterations and additions (but including refinancings) rose 2.2% in seasonally adjusted terms [see yesterday’s housing finance data release for further information]: The seasonally adjusted series for


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


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