Unconventional Economist


Melbourne’s apartment glut builds

A few weeks back I reported how Melbourne rental vacancy rates, as recorded by SQM Research, have ballooned to 4.4% – a six year high: Yesterday, the Sunday Age published an interesting article, Rental squeeze begins to ease, which adds some colour on the rental apartment glut that is developing in Melbourne. MELBOURNE’S rental market


APM misreports own house price data

On Wednesday, the mainstream media reported on the December 2011 house price data released by Australian Property Monitors. These reports noted that national house prices rose marginally in the December quarter, breaking a year long run of negative growth. The below extract from Fairfax is indicative of mainstream media’s reporting of the APM release: HOUSE


The eagle stirs

Please find below former Reserve Bank of New Zealand advisor and multiple CEO, Terry “Macca” McFadgen’s, latest ‘Maccanomics’ article, which tackles the reviving United States economy. Enjoy! On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America. Six years earlier at the Second Continental Congress thirteen colonies


Unpaid bills spike

Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) have just released their quarterly Trade Payments Analysis, which examines the ability of firms to pay their bills, and pay them on time: …during the December quarter last year, the number of bills left unpaid for 90 days or more grew 20 per cent compared with 12 months ago. While overall


Defending the bubble

In March 2011, HSBC’s chief economist, Paul Bloxham, made the following claims in relation to Australia’s housing bubble: Without some reversal of these structural changes [lower interest rates, better-anchored inflation expectations, and increased availability of housing credit] – which is a virtual impossibility – we do not expect Australian housing prices to fall. Indeed, we


PPI pushes case for rate cut

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released Producer Price Index (PPI) data for the December quarter, which has registered only a 0.3% quarterly increase in final (stage 3) prices – below consensus forecasts of a 0.4% rise – and an increase of 2.9% over the year: The 0.3% in final (stage 3) prices


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.


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


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,


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