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Every Federal Budget contains many thousands of numbers, graphs and words about the economy, the finances of the government and the impact of the decisions taken during the budget process.
It is impossible to digest every aspect of this myriad of information but it is fun, and somewhat enlightening, to scour through the budget papers for interesting facts and issues that the budget throws up after it has been delivered.
Some of those issues that captured my attention, as I sat by the fire the weekend after budget day, are outlined below. They help to illustrate how detailed and complex the budget process is and how much work is undertaken to get the budget finished, signed off and delivered on time each year.
Here are some Budget snippets:
Iron Ore Each US$1 a tonne move in the iron ore price in 2018-19, away from the US$55 a tonne assumed in the budget, impacts government tax receipts by $420 million per annum. If, for example, the iron ore price were to jump US$20 / tonne, to the level it was two months ago, the budget bottom line would improve by $8.4 billion each year.
House prices slump: Straw that breaks the economy’s back?
Will a slump in house prices be the straw that breaks the economy’s back and be the trigger for an economic hard landing in Australia?
Probably no, but it is a question that will likely dominate the news over the remainder of 2017 and into 2018.
Australia has gone 25 glorious years without a recession, but the risks are building that late 2017 and 2018 will be glum ones for the economy. The extent to which the economy is stuck in the mud will depend on the extent of the housing slowdown, the impact this has on already fragile consumer demand and the policy response of the RBA and possibly the government.
A slump in house prices will damage consumer wealth and with that consumer spending, investment and employment. Wages growth, which is already at a record low, will stay low which will further compound the lack of traction in the economy and feed into the fragile growth outlook. Already retail sales are flat or falling and consumer sentiment shows more people are pessimistic than optimistic.