Blog

Thu, 06 Mar 2014  |  

The run of staggeringly good news on the economy continues to roll out.

Today it is a massive lift in retail sales growth – up 1.2 per cent in January and a stonking 9 per cent annualised growth pace over the past 6 months. Consumers are wealthy, with house prices and stocks adding close to $1 trillion to household wealth in the last two years. With high savings, consumers are spending up big.

Just wait until the labour market turns in the next few months and job creation and wages pick up. Retailers are in clover.

The only surprise is that so many people are surprised by these dynamics.

Wed, 05 Mar 2014  |  

Whoosh!

Did you hear that noise?

It was the sound of the Australian lifting a gear and moving back to trend growth.

The national accounts confirmed the Australian economy ending 2013 with GDP growth at a decent 2.8 per cent which translates to an annualised rate of 3 per cent over the final six months of the year.

If you were a policy maker and seeing GDP growth at trend, with inflation jumping to the upper part of your target, when the world economy is lifting, would you consider a record low 2.5 per cent cash rate to be appropriate?

Tue, 04 Mar 2014  |  

After the release of the labour force and capital expenditure data in recent weeks, an interest rate hike in March was always going to be off the table.

My forecast from five months ago for a hike in March, albeit wrong, left me with a profit on trading given the market was pricing in an interest rate cut for all of that time. So a wrong call that makes money? I'll take that.

The RBA announcement today highlighted its new found view that "growth is expected to strengthen, helped by continued low interest rates and the lower exchange rate". Unlike many in the market, the RBA is clearly looking at the stellar housing activity (prices and construction), solid consumer demand, strong export growth, improving global conditions and a pick up in inflation to support this view.

Mon, 03 Mar 2014  |  

• Job ads up
• House prices up
• Home building approvals up near record highs
• Retail spending strong
• Company profits growth up over 10 per cent
• Government tax revenue stronger than expected
• Business conditions lifting
• ASX near 6 year high
• Exports booming
• Interest rates at record low
• Government demand no longer restrictive
• Aussie dollar low
• Non-residential construction up
• Inflation lifting to upper part of RBA target band

VERSUS

• Mining investment falling very sharply (but note above the other 90 per cent of the economy)
• Employment weak (but note above, the ANZ job ads)

I'll take the high road on the weight of that evidence.

Mon, 03 Mar 2014  |  

The Australia economy is significantly stronger than was forecast at the time of the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in late December.

So says Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

The Government Monthly Financial Statement for the six months to December, shows that tax revenue is flowing in to the government coffers at a 1.1 per cent faster pace ($1.754 billion in six months) than was forecast at MYEFO.

Encouragingly, the increase is quite broadly based.

Fri, 28 Feb 2014  |  

With today's $800 million borrowing from the Federal government, the total amount of gross borrowing has topped $50 billion - $50.65 billion to be precise - since the election in September last year.

The government has had to borrow to cover the existing deficit as well as to cover some of its decisions on 'border protection' and the $8.8 billion is spent on the reserves of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The total amount of gross debt on issue stands at $300.6 billion, a record high and up some $27.4 billion since the election.

Wed, 26 Feb 2014  |  

Adam Smith, the father of economics, noted:

• "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest".

So too Australian farmers.

Tue, 25 Feb 2014  |  

It seems most of the market has missed it, but the Australian dollar has already had its sell-off, dropping from 110 US cents in July 2011 to 86.60 cents just last month. The peak to trough fall is over 20%.

Down at around 87 or 88 cents was the time to get in because the pick up, back to around 90 cents at the moment, is just the start of trend that should see the AUD move back to 95 cents and then above parity.

Mon, 24 Feb 2014  |  

UPDATE 1.20pm, Canberra time:

Aussie dollar now 0.8945; US stock futures down 0.2 per cent, Chinese stocks down 2 per cent, European stock futures down 0.5 to 1 per cent. Market assessing the G20 growth objective as useless, meaningly and unreachable. Hot air swallowed by an easily plied few, but not the markets.   SK

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It's Monday morning and financial markets are passing their judgment on the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governor's meeting in Sydney over the weekend.

The headline grabbing quest for an additional 2 per cent economic growth over 5 years for the world economy has been met with nonchalant indifference. US stocks futures are a piddling 0.1 per cent higher, recouping a fraction of the 0.3 per cent fall that was registered on Friday; commodity prices are flat; and in what should be a super-charging development for the Australian dollar – stronger global economic activity – the Aussie is less than 0.1 per cent higher at 0.8980.

Fri, 21 Feb 2014  |  

The Abbott government just borrowed a further $800 million, which brings the cumulative total of gross borrowings since 9 September 2013 to $48.85 billion.

The Australian Office of Financial Management has indicated it will borrow a further $1.8 billion next week which will bring the amount of gross debt issued since the election to over $50 billion in just over five months.

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

Don’t fall for the spin - Scott Morrison’s budget surplus is no certainty

Thu, 06 Dec 2018

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance web site at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/dont-fall-spin-scott-morrisons-budget-surplus-no-certainty-224422761.html 

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Don’t fall for the spin - Scott Morrison’s budget surplus is no certainty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison could yet be guilty of prematurely declaring that his government will deliver a budget surplus in 2018-19.

Sure, tax revenue is growing at a rapid pace and the government is underspending on a range of government services, but there are still seven long months to go between now and the end of the financial year that might yet blow up the surplus commitment.

PM Morrison’s ‘return to surplus’ boast is based, it appears, on hard data for the first four months of the 2018-19 financial year on revenue and spending information from the Department of Finance. These numbers do look strong, at least in terms of the budget numbers and if the trends on revenue and spending continue, the budget will probably be in surplus. Treasury will be factoring in ongoing economic growth, no increase in the unemployment rate and buoyant iron ore and coal prices over the remainder of the financial year. These forecasts and hence the budget bottom line are subject to a good deal of uncertainty, as they are every year.

If, as is distinctly possible, the economy stalls in the March and June quarters 2019, commodity prices continue to weaken and if there are some unexpected increases in government spending, the current erroneous forecasts for revenue and spending could leave the budget in deficit.

Change of view on monetary policy

Wed, 05 Dec 2018

In the wake of the September quarter national accounts, and with accumulating information on house prices, dwelling investment, the global economy and spare capacity in the labour market, I have revised my outlook for official interest rates.

For some time, I have been expecting the RBA to cut the official cash rate to 1.0 per cent, a forecast that has been wrong (clearly) given its decision to leave rates steady right through 2018.

That said, it has been a highly profitable call with the market pricing interest rate hikes when the call was made which has yielded a decent return as time has passed.

My updated profile for RBA rates is:

May 2019 – 25bp cut to 1.25%
August 2019 – 25bp cut to 1.00%
November 2019 – 25bp cut to 0.75%

The risk is for rates to 0.5% in very late 2019 or in 2020

It will be driven by:

  • Underlying inflation remaining below 2%
  • GDP growth around 0.25 to 0.5% per quarter in 2019
  • Annual wages growth stuck at 2.5% or less
  • Global growth slowing towards 3%
  • Labour market under-utilisation around 13 to 13.5%

There are likely to be other influences, but these are the main ones.

AUD, as a result, looks set to drop to 0.6000 – 0.6500 range.