Blog

Fri, 21 Feb 2014  |  

Treasurer Joe Hockey and Employment Minister Eric Abetz must be delighted with the current structure of the industrial relations system and the degree of flexibility in the labour market.

Recent labour force data have confirmed a near text book degree of flexibility in wages. At a time when employment growth is softening and the unemployment rate has been edging up, there has been a slowing in the pace of wages growth.

Here are the facts.

Tue, 18 Feb 2014  |  

The $882 million tax 'refund' to News Corporation is a lot on money.

Browsing through the budget papers puts some context on what $882 million can buy.

Mon, 17 Feb 2014  |  

In 2012-13, average earnings for a worker in paid employment in Australia were approximately $57,000 for the year.

On those earnings, the income tax plus the Medicare levy was approximately $10,925.

The tax refund to News Corporation reported in today's AFR, as it won a legal battle "from a series of paper shuffles between subsidiaries", as the AFR's Neil Chenoweth put it, was $882 million.

This $882 million from "paper shuffles" is equal to the income tax paid, including the Medicare levy, for around 80,700 workers on average incomes.

Just sayin'.

Mon, 17 Feb 2014  |  

There are lots of people who spend $2,000 each year and more going to concerts, plays, movies and the opera. But is the cost of these tickets dead money or money well spent?

That few thousand dollars no doubt provides a good dose of inspiration and entertainment in the delights of Carmen, One Direction, Mary Poppins, The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Hamlet and a mix of the Hollywood blockbusters and fringe movies that are always a bit quirky.

Most who spend a chunk of their hard earned cash on any such array of cultural fulfillment will no doubt think it money well spent.

But is it?

Fri, 14 Feb 2014  |  

The Abbott government borrowed a further $800 million today. This brings the amount of gross government debt issued since the election in September 2013 to $47.25 billion.

Allowing for the fact that some of this borrowing is in the form of short term T-Notes and covers bond maturities which means there is some double counting in the new borrowing total, the amount of total gross government debt has increased by $26.1 billion to $299.2 billion since the election.

Thu, 13 Feb 2014  |  

I was wrong.

The RBA is not going to hike interest rates in March after all, simply because of the persistent degree of slack in the labour market.

In my judgment, the stellar lift in dwelling construction, exports and consumer demand, all event from around the middle of 2013, would have been sufficient to kick in to solid employment growth by now.

Tue, 10 Dec 2013  |  

This article was first published on 25 June 2012 on marketeconomics.com.au 

Australia's net Government debt was $96 billion in June 1996. By June 2007, Australia had net financial assets (negative debt) of $29 billion. The Howard Government and the current Liberal Party point to this turn in the finances of the Government with pride and say it is a sign of good economic management.

To be sure, this is a significant turnaround but there are some interesting facts behind the issue of Government debt in the past 30 or so years.

Wed, 12 Feb 2014  |  

The Westpac measure of consumer sentiment dipped 3 points in February, to be back, more or less, to neutral. That is to say, consumers are neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the future.

While it is never possible to pin-point why consumers are happy or sad, the timing of the survey coincided with fires, SPC Ardmona, heat, an emerging market inspired drop in stocks and of course, some talk that the next move in interest rates might be up. The government also took the odd step of talking down the economy, inflaming the budget 'crisis' again and the need for spending cuts which, no doubt, is dampening sentiment.

Wed, 18 Dec 2013  |  

As is normal at this time of the year, economists are pretty much compelled to outline their main themes for the economy and markets in the year ahead.

I am not different so here we go.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014  |  

It is staggering that some who should know better reckon that the building approvals data for December were weak.

OK, the number of building approvals fell 2.9% in December in seasonally adjusted terms, but this must be viewed in the context of earlier readings.

Those readings show that the number of building approvals in the December quarter as a whole was the highest since 1994 and the second highest quarterly result ever recorded. Sound weak to you?

The ABS measure of the trend series has increased every month, including December, for two years to be at the highest level since 1994.

Dwelling construction is in a boom.

Making the outlook for the construction sector all the more positive is that non-residential building is explosive with quite phenomenal double digit growth over the second half of 2013.

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

Memo to RBA – be careful what you wish for. House prices are falling

Fri, 19 Jan 2018

The recent house price data from Corelogic are showing further falls in house prices.

The falls are, disconcertingly, most evident in Sydney where prices have dropped 0.5 per cent so far in January, which brings the aggregate fall since the September 2017 peak to a chunky 2.9 per cent. This means that for a $1 million property in September, the value has fallen $29,000 in just 4 months.

The house price weakness is not confined to Sydney.

In Melbourne, the Corelogic data shows house prices topping-out. Prices are down 0.3 per cent from the December 2017 peak which, to be sure, is not a large decline after the stunning increases of previous years, but a fall it is.

I'm out of the hammock to look at some facts about Australia's labour market

Thu, 18 Jan 2018

There was another round of euphoria as the monthly labour force data hit the screens. The data showed a nice 34,700 rise in employment in December which brought the total rise in jobs in 2017 to 403,100.

This is good news, to be sure, but how good is it really? What is the context for this increase in employment and how is Australia going in an ever vibrant and dynamic global economy?

Of some concern, Australia’s unemployment rate remains at 5.5 per cent – it actually ticked up from 5.4 per cent the prior month. Interestingly, and something less favourable, is the fact that the unemployment rate has been below 5.5 per cent for just two months (October and November 2017) in the last four and half years. Where is that 5 per cent or lower full-employment target everyone reckons we are near?

What’s more interesting, and a sign of the policy sloth that Australia is enduring at the moment, is that around the world, unemployment rates are falling and are impressively low.

Sure each country will have its quirks but have a look at our 5.5 per cent against these countries.