Blog

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.

Tue, 10 Dec 2013  |  

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.

Wed, 12 Feb 2014  |  

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.

THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

The RBA has the tools to fix the economy, but is reluctant to use them

Thu, 05 Dec 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance web site at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/rba-tools-reluctant-042742904.html

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The RBA has the tools to fix the economy, but is reluctant to use them

The Reserve Bank of Australia has made a range of serious policy errors over the past few years, and the Australian economy is weaker because of those mistakes and misjudgments.

Not only is the RBA on track to miss its inflation target for six years, and perhaps longer, the persistently high unemployment rate in concert with record low wages growth is the result of the RBA’s tardiness in cutting interest rates because of its textbook obsession with house prices and household debt.

It is a mistake that has cost the economy tens of billions of dollars in lost output; employment is many thousands of people below what could have been achieved; and all the while wages growth hovers near record lows undermining the wellbeing of the workforce. What’s worse, the RBA seems to have thrown in the towel on trying to meet its inflation target, even though that target was confirmed a month ago in the recent update of the Conduct of Monetary Policy between the RBA and Treasurer.

In this context, Deputy Governor of the RBA, Guy Debelle, gave a fascinating speech earlier this week on the topic of employment and wages.

Household wealth is booming: What this means

Mon, 25 Nov 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/household-wealth-booming-200022930.html 

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Household wealth is booming: What this means

$500,000,000,000.

In other words, half a trillion dollars.

That is approximately the amount Australian household wealth has increased since the start of July 2019, with house prices surging, the Australian stock market moving higher, and savings increasing.

The bulk of the gains have occurred via rising house prices, which according to CoreLogic, are up over 5 per cent in less than five months. This move in house prices has added around $360 billion to the value of housing and is driving the rebound in wealth. At the same time, the level of the ASX has risen by around 2 per cent with a further $40 billion being paid out in dividends. This allows for the recent pull back on prices as new banking scandals are exposed.

In these conditions of rising wealth, the household sector is getting a serious financial reprieve, despite the ongoing weakness in wages and the still very high level of unemployment and underemployment which afflicts almost 14 per cent of the workforce.

The good news is that this wealth creation is likely to spark a rise in household spending growth once the gains are widely acknowledged in the community and then feed into consumer sentiment. This is most likely to show up in the first half of 2020, after the usual lags work their way through the economy. History shows that when we consumers experience growth in our wealth, we are more inclined to lift our spending.

Earlier this year, RBA researchers Diego May, Gabriela Nodari and Daniel Rees found that:

“When wealth increases, Australian households consume more. Spending on durable goods, like motor vehicles, and discretionary goods, such as recreation, appears to be most responsive to changes in household wealth”.

We saw this, in the reverse, in the period from the middle of 2017 to the middle of 2019 when Australia-wide house prices fell by 10 per cent, crunching wealth levels. It was no surprise that during this period, household spending growth slumped. The retail sales component fell to its weakest since the early 1990s recession. Consumer spending and confidence was not helped by the coincident weakness in wages growth and the policy mistake of the RBA which refused to cut official interest rates, even though the economy was mired in a low inflation, low growth and falling wealth climate.

Thankfully, common sense has since prevailed at the RBA and it has cut interest rates three times since June.

Demand for housing has also lifted with shrewd first home buyers taking advantage of favourable affordability and investors also stepping back in after the May election saw the return of the Coalition government and the demise of Labor’s proposal to reform negative gearing tax laws. The current wealth surge unfolding now is occurring at a time when there is also a sharp decline in the debt-servicing burden as interest rates fall. This has the dual effect of freeing up cash flows for some consumers and allows other to accelerate their debt repayment.

For the moment, the labour market remains weak and wages are still stuck in the mud. These will constrain any near term lift in household spending, but the wealth lift will be vital for sparking a pick-up in consumption, probably in the new year when the effect is more widely observed and entrenched.

It adds to the scenario where 2020 is looking like a better year for the economy with bottom line GDP growth set to hit 3 per cent in the second half of the year.  If the wealth effects build further over that time and business investment and infrastructure spending continues to lift, the economy in 2020 just might register its strongest growth rate in a decade.