Consumer sentiment moribund - wage growth remains at record lows

Wed, 12 Nov 2014  |  

The household sector remains a weak link in the Australian economy. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute of consumer sentiment remained below 100 index points for the ninth straight month, even though it ticked up slightly to 96.6 points in November.

Consumers remain pessimistic, on average, and while ever this remains the case, household spending is likely to remain soggy and certainly not strong enough to sustain real GDP growth at 3 per cent or more.

Of more concern is the ongoing weakness in wages growth. The Wage Price Index rose a tepid 2.6 per cent in the year to the September quarter, equal to the lowest since the series began and probably the lowest increase in Australian wages since at least the 1960s (the data on wages are complicated by breaks in data collection and methodological changes).

The weak wages growth is set to continue with the Commonwealth public service likely to get wage increases of 1.25 per cent or so for the next three years and this wage recession is likely to have implications for private sector wages over that time.

It's no wonder consumers are generally gloomy. In addition to wages growth being mired in the doldrums, last week we saw confirmation that employment levels have stalled and the unemployment rate has risen to a decade high.

Never mind, say the RBA, which is steadfastly holding Australian interest rates at levels well above those of the rest of the industrialised world, hoping that growth will be sustained from somewhere else.

Things will be better in 2016, the RBA exclaims and well they might. In the mean time, it looks like a tough year ahead for the economy with sluggishness in consumer demand an important handbrake on fresh activity.

comments powered by Disqus

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

The misplaced objective of the government of delivering a surplus, come hell or high water, has gone up in smoke

Tue, 07 Jan 2020

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance web site at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-governments-test-in-2020-220310427.html   

---------------------------- 

The misplaced objective of the government of delivering a surplus, come hell or high water, has gone up in smoke

For many people, the cost of the fires is immeasurable. 

Or irrelevant. 

They have lost loved ones, precious possessions, businesses and dreams and for these people, what lies ahead is bleak.

Life has changed forever.

As the fires continue to ravage through huge tracts of land, destroying yet more houses, more property, incinerating livestock herds, hundreds of millions of wildlife, birds and burning millions of hectares of forests, it is important to think about the plans for what lies ahead.

The rebuilding task will be huge.

Several thousands of houses, commercial buildings and infrastructure will require billions of dollars and thousands of workers to rebuild. Then there are the furniture and fittings for these buildings – carpets, fridges, washing machines, clothes, lounges, dining tables, TVs and the like will be purchased to restock.

Then there are the thousands of cars and other machinery and equipment that will need to be replaced. 

What's ahead for the Australian economy and markets in 2020

Thu, 02 Jan 2020

What's ahead for the Australian economy and markets in 2020

Happy New Year!

2020 will be a year where Australia’s annual GDP will exceed $2 trillion, our population will get very close to 26 million people and we will clock up 29 years with no recession.

It is also a year where the economy will be a dominant issue for policy makers, will drive what happens to interest rates, will help drive investment returns and will feed into the well-being of the Australian community. 

2020 kicks off with relatively good news in terms of economic growth, even though the labour market is likely to remain weak, with wages growth struggling to lift and inflation remaining below the RBA’s 2 to 3 per cent target. The Reserve Bank may have one more interest rate cut in its kit bag, but by year end, the market is likely to price in interest rate increases, albeit modestly.

The ASX, which had a great 2019 is set to be flatten out, in part driven by the change in the interest rate outlook, but it should get a boost from better news on housing and household spending.

In terms of the specifics, I have broken down the 2020 outlook into a range of categories and given a broad explanation on the issues underpinning the themes outlined.

GDP Growth

It’s a positive outlook. A pick-up in GDP growth from the current 1.7 per cent annual rate is unfolding, with the only real issue is the extent of the acceleration.