Let’s get a little perspective on the Capex data, which has been welcomed by a range of people saying it is “not so bad when you look at the details”.
Well, I am looking at the details and note the following.
Capex (business investment) has fallen 8.5 per cent over the last two quarters – this is the largest six-month fall since Australia was climbing out of its last recession in 1993. Sounds pretty grim to me, acknowledging that it is from a high base.
Between June 2012 and March 2014, Capex has fallen a meaty 10.1 per cent.
In terms of the Capex expectations, compared with the same survey a year ago, firms are expecting to invest 12 per cent less in 2014-15 than 2013-14, which is remarkably weak given it is a nominal estimate (assume the price deflator is positive) and that the survey was conducted in April and early May, before the kerfuffle of the budget slammed consumer confidence.
I suppose if you waterboard the data long enough you can make is admit to anything – the non-mining and non-manufacturing sectors are looking better. And yes, the result is better than the market’s forecasts, but that probably says more about the forecasting competence of the market than the numbers themselves.
For me, the hard data on Capex stink, no matter how much Chanel No. 5 some people are willing to spray on it.