Stephen Koukoulas

Stephen Koukoulas

Thursday, 13 February 2014 15:17

Lags, jobs and interest rates

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.

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.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 11:12

The not so sentimental consumer

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.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00

The economy and markets in 2014

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.

Monday, 03 February 2014 00:00

The building approvals boom

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.

OPENING REMARKS TO THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE INTO THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT’S COMMISSION OF AUDIT

Australia does not have a government debt or deficit problem.

According to Treasury numbers published by Treasurer Mr Hockey in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in December, over the last 43 years of budget outcomes (the full data set), there have been 19 budget surpluses and 24 budget deficits.

Up until 2007-08, just prior to the collapse of the global financial system and the onset of the deepest recession in the industrialised world since the 1930s Great Depression, surpluses were a little ahead of deficits, 19 to 18. This suggests that the recent move to budget deficit is almost certainly nothing more than the long-run business cycle impacting on government finances.

Saturday, 08 February 2014 00:00

The Kouk's top 40 hits and misses

Over the summer break, while fiddling through data bases, reading and just being interested in things, I unearthed a few quirky bits and pieces about the Australian economy, people, sport and a few other bits and pieces. 

Only item 38 is open to any discussion, perhaps. Here are the top 40.

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 

----------------------------------------

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 

------------------------------------------- 

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.