Hockey is right; and the growth in house prices is falling

Tue, 16 Sep 2014  |  

The RBA rear view mirror analysis of house prices is very confusing. Earlier in the year when it could have gotten away with an interest rate hike to cool housing (among other things), it mentioned house price growth without a hint of concern. This was when house prices were running rampant.

Now, six months later, when there are clear signs of a moderation or cooling in house prices, the Minutes of the September RBA Board meeting noted "housing prices had been rising at a rapid pace" and that "Members further observed that additional speculative demand could amplify the property price cycle".

The odd thing with the RBA about-face is that house prices are now the weakest they've been in several years.

According to the RPData house price series, in the four and half months since the end of April, house prices have risen by just 1.6 per cent, which is an average monthly pace of 0.35 per cent or an annual rate at a very comfortable 4.25 per cent.

To be sure, with interest rates still very low and the supply and demand imbalance at least a little bit skewed towards a small housing shortage, house prices are likely to be supported. That assumes, of course, that the recent increase in the unemployment rate is not sustained, nor is damaging to the credit quality of mortgage holders. These are big assumptions at the moment when overlayed with a worrisome fall in real wages.

The RBA is slow to recognise the turning point in house prices. While some jawboning of house prices is no bad thing, they are afterall still high, the RBA risks holding monetary policy too tight because of this misreading of the housing market.

Treasurer Joe Hockey was spot on today with his comments at the Bloomberg Summit in Sydney. Mr Hockey said, "Australia fundamentally doesn't produce enough houses to meet demand, it is just an infinite mantra for international commentators, for analysts based overseas to say 'well, you know, there's a bit of a housing bubble emerging in Australia'. That is rather a lazy analysis, because fundamentally we don't have enough supply to meet demand. That doesn't suggest there's a bubble; there might be a price increase of some substance, but you'd expect the market to react and produce some more housing."

And with building approvals running near record levels, the supply side is responding. Mr Hockey gets it, it seems.

Mr Hockey and his team would be wise to raise this at his next meeting with RBA Governor Stevens. Let's hope the RBA does not make a policy mistake of holding monetary policy inappropriately tight as it fights last year's battle. It doesn't need to tighten policy given the house price boom is slowing, it is just that not many people including those at the RBA are aware of it.

comments powered by Disqus

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

Change of view on interest rates

Fri, 24 May 2019

Having been the only economist to correctly anticipate an interest rate cut from the RBA when close to 50bps of interest rate hikes were priced in to the market last year (See Bloomberg 17 August 2018), I have agonised over the exact months the cuts would be delivered and then how many rate cuts would be needed to reflate the economy.

Recently, I was of the view that the RBA would need to cut 100bps from now, to a level of 0.5%, but I did so with relatively low confidence. This is why I recommended all clients to close their long interest rate positions on 17 April 2019 (when the implied yields were 1.10% for the mid 2020 OIS; 1.35% on 3 year yields and the Aussie dollar was just over 0.7000 at the time).

Like in most good trades that were massively in the money, I left a little money on the table while I reassessed the outlook.

Since calling for interest rate cuts from the RBA, a lot of water has passed under the bridge, especially in the last few weeks.

Events mean I am changing my view on interest rates and have been placing / will be looking to implement new trades.

Watch out Australia: There's a flood of dismal economic news on the horizon

Wed, 01 May 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/watch-out-australia-theres-a-flood-of-dismal-economic-news-on-the-horizon-211110783.html

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

Watch out Australia: There's a flood of dismal economic news on the horizon

The Australian economy is in trouble and Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party government need to come clean and acknowledge this and outline a framework how this period of economic funk is to be addressed if they win the 18 May election.

The Liberal Party is campaigning in the election on a “strong economy” and being “good economic managers”, bold claims that fly in the face of the latest score card for the economy.

That scorecard shows a flood of what is, frankly, disappointing or even dismal economic news. Australia is going through a very rare recession in per capita GDP terms and last week saw data showing zero inflation in the March quarter. Contribution to these indictors of economic funk is the fact that well over half a trillion dollars of householder wealth has been destroyed as house prices have tumbled.

Add to that the fact reported by the Australian Office of Financial management last week that gross government debt is $543 billion, almost double the level that the Coalition government inherited in September 2013, and the scorecard is looking very ratty indeed.

As the ad man used to say, “but wait, there’s more”.