And it ain’t pretty. The Aussie bond market boom is back with more 2020 highs (yield lows): It has steepened a little since last year, but the curve is still inverted out to the five year indicating weak growth at best and high recession risk for years ahead: In turn, this has spreads falling versus
The “miracle” Australian economy (with its famous run of 24 years without a recession) is an amalgam of pre-modern and post-modern industries with very little in between.
Most economies run at least partially upon the productivity gains produced out of manufacturing and ‘making things’ but in Australia productive investment is supplanted with commodity exports (which make up half of exports) and the recycling of the resultant income is deployed as cash flow for borrowings offshore to pump house prices.
The former step is basically the selling of dirt, a pre-modern activity. The second step is managed via the sophisticated use of derivative markets and is essentially a post-modern activity.
Not that GDP cares given it is only the mindless measure of whirring widgets.
However, both of these activities systematically reduce economic competitiveness by inflating both input costs and the currency. “Dutch disease” by another name. This continuous “hollowing out” of productive activity means the broader economy relies heavily upon the non-stop import of capital, either in the form of debt or in the form of assets sold to foreigners, to generate ongoing income growth.
So long as the underlying income from dirt keeps flowing then the leveraging into house prices that supports consumption can continue, supported by both tax distortions and government spending.
If, however, the dirt income flow halts the hollowing out of modern industry will leave the Australian economy very exposed to a current account adjustment. We saw this in the global financial crisis but the flow of dirt income was restored sufficiently quickly to prevent any deep adjustment.
A second risk is that the debt accumulation simply becomes overly onerous for the underlying economy to service, also resulting in a current account adjustment. Well north of $1trillion of the debt is owned externally and household debt is a world-beating 186% of GDP so this is a real risk.
It is offset by a relatively clean public balance sheet that deploys fiscal stimulus in times of economic stress. However, in recent years, as both of the two above risks have increased, the public balance sheet has deteriorated as well, setting Australia up for a famous adjustment to end its famous bull run.
MacroBusiness covers all apposite data and wider analysis of these issues daily.
It’s reeling from bushfires, via The Australian: Hoteliers and tourism executives say the “worst summer on record” has cost the nation $2bn and could wipe a further $4.5bn from the industry, as Tourism Australia unveils the first part of its multi-layered bushfire rescue package. Domestic tourism has been hit by the fires and subsequent hazardous
Australia’s retail apocalypse continues, with German giant Kaufland announcing an “orderly withdrawal” from Australia despite sinking more than half a billion dollars of investment: The company had been set to open as many as 30 stores in Australia and had bought a number of warehouse and retail locations around the country… In June last year
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Via Westpac: It is entirely reasonable to have expected that the Index would have fallen during this period of devastating bushfires. Perhaps it is somewhat surprising that the fall in the Index was not more severe particularly in light of the 5.8% fall we saw during the Queensland floods in 2011. However the fall in
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Nick Klomp – vice-chancellor of CQUniversity – has attacked the wilful neglect of Australian regions, which are treated like ugly cousins of Australia’s cities: Like it or not, Australia’s rise or fall over coming years will be played out in the regions, by the regions. The main problem is this: Regional Australia lacks both the
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Says two year old index. Via CBA’s consumer intentions survey: Home Buying Spending Intentions Home buying intentions moved higher again in December and now sit at a record high HSI readings indicate that the pick up in dwelling prices in H2 2019 may continue into H1 2020 The turn in the HSI is also a sign
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Oxfam has released new data claiming that Australia’s richest 1% of Australians have more than double the wealth of the entire bottom 50%: Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said the top 1 per cent of Australians, just 250,000 people, owned a staggering nearly USD $1.6 trillion – equating to 22.2 per cent of the
Via the AFR: The Morrison government will announce on Monday a tripling in the size of cheap loans and grants for any small businesses hit by the bushfires, in a move that will put pressure on the thinning budget surplus. The decision could blow emergency funding out beyond the extra $2 billion announced for the disaster a
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Via The Australian comes some bad news: The Morrison government has announced a $76 million tourism recovery package aimed at halting an alarming decline in international bookings in the wake of Australia’s bushfire crisis. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said with bookings from key international markets down by as much as 30
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