Blog

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.

Thu, 20 Feb 2014  |  

This article was first published in The Melbourne Review https://www.melbournereview.com.au/commentary/article/joe-hockey-treasury-or-trickery 

 

In the move to a budget surplus, how much is Joe Hockey's prowess as Treasurer and how much is trickery?

The Abbott government's chances of re-election in 2016 will be driven by the budget next year.

On 12 May 2015, Treasurer Joe Hockey will deliver his second budget and in doing so, he will announce that the budget is back on track, the Labor mess has been cleaned up and that for 2016-17 and beyond, there will be budget surpluses.

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.

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

It’s time to end the “strong economy” propaganda

Thu, 20 Jun 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/its-time-end-strong-economy-propaganda-230414837.html 

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It’s time to end the “strong economy” propaganda

For the last year or so, it has been obvious to anyone with an open mind that the economy is in trouble. Unfortunately, the government and the Reserve Bank not only ignored this growth slump, but they ran a propaganda campaign saying the economy was “strong”, that unemployment would keep falling and wages growth was poised to pick up.

It might have been politics that lead the RBA and Treasury to this view with the recent election swinging on the economic credentials of both major parties. Ahead of the election, the RBA and Treasury were loathe to undermine the government with an honest assessment of the rapidly spreading economic problems.

It is possible that the forecasts were a simple error, which sometimes happens when an external shock hits the economy.

Either way, things are so bad in the economy right now that forecasters are rushing to out-do each other on how low interest rates will go in this cycle. Some are canvassing negative interest rates, printing money or the need for a fiscal policy boost if the economy remains in its economic funk.

Time will tell.

The range of forecasts that where regularly produced by the government (Treasury) and the RBA up until very recently were unambiguously optimistic. The forecasts ignored all hard data on the economy, which suggests it may have been a political strategy to remain upbeat, rather than it being a clumsy forecasting error.

An update on my house price bet with Tony Locantro

Thu, 20 Jun 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/house-prices-are-still-dropping-but-bottom-sight-210000929.html 

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An update on my house price bet with Tony Locantro

It is difficult to think of a bigger issue that gets Australians fired up than house prices.Regular readers will know that back in September 2018, I made a bet on house prices with Tony Locantro, a fired-up Investment Manager with Alto Capital in Perth.

Tony wont mind me saying this, but he is what is called an ‘uber bear’ on house prices – he reckons prices are grossly inflated and are overdue to collapse. On the other hand, I reckon there is a cycle and that after the surge up to 2017, house price falls were inevitable, but that the decline would last only a couple of years and would not be too severe.

The bet was framed around a peak-to-trough fall in prices of 35.0 per cent in either Sydney, Melbourne or the 8 capital cities measure used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. If prices fell by more than 35 per cent at any stage from the peak until the end of 2021, Tony would win, if the fall was less than 35 per cent, I would win.

Simple.

That background is important because the ABS just released the official dwelling price data for the March quarter 2019.

In the quarter, dwelling prices fell 3.0 per cent in the 8 capital cities and dropped 3.9 per cent in Sydney and 3.8 per cent in Melbourne.