Don’t look now – you are almost certainly poorer than a year ago

Wed, 09 Jan 2019  |  

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance web page at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/dont-look-now-almost-certainly-poorer-year-ago-211934583.html 

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Don’t look now – you are almost certainly poorer than a year ago

I am sorry to kick off the new year with some gloomy news of your finances.

It is never nice to discuss how much money you have lost, but if you are a home owner in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or Darwin and if you have a superannuation nest egg, the odds are you are less wealthy today than you were a year or two ago.

Here are some uncomfortable facts.

The Australian stock market, where the bulk of your superannuation assets are likely to be invested, has slumped 11 per cent since August, reducing the value of stocks by around $200 billion.  No doubt your superannuation has suffered part of this loss.

At the same time, home owners in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin are seeing the value of their homes getting crunched.

Here are some examples.

A house in Sydney that was $1 million in July 2017 is now worth around $890,000, a loss of $110,000 in 18 months.

In Melbourne, a house that was $800,000 in early 2018 has lost around $50,000 in value, to now be worth around $750,000.

In Perth, the situation is more parlous. Prices have dropped 15 per cent since late 2014, meaning that a property that was $600,000 in 2014-15 has lost close to $100,000 in value to be worth just over $500,000.

Ouch!

While those in the most financial pain are those who bought at the top of the market, the effect of falling house prices is very real for all home owners, including those who own investment properties. Rising house prices underpin extra consumer spending which helps to support the bottom line growth in the economy. This is through a wealth effect which impacts on the economy in a number of different ways.

When householders are wealthier, discretionary savings are lowered, which frees up money to be spent in the broader economy. What is also important is the reduction in the loan to valuation of a property with a mortgage as house prices rise. This not only makes the householder more financial secure, the banks and other lenders are more comfortable with the financial status of the borrowers and they will be able to ramp up lending not only to the existing home owner, but to new potential customers as well.

And when house prices and wealth are declining, as they are now, householders will hunker down with their spending and the banks will be tighter with their credit.

This is the risk to the economy in 2019.

As the loss of wealth filters through to more and more householders, or perhaps when they see the house around the corner not sell for months and when if finally does, the price is a shock, or even when the next superannuation statement comes in showing a sizable fall in the balance, consumers will likely scale back their spending, rebuild savings and be generally cautious in their approach to spending. This will undermine growth in the economy.

Things could get even more problematic if the stock market remains weak and house prices keep falling through the course of 2019. The wealth losses will be more extreme and the consumer reaction to those losses even greater in terms of the slowing in growth in spending.

The economy and your personal finances are kicking off 2019 on a fragile note. At best the next six months will see the economy muddle along with growth slowing, the unemployment rate ticking up and inflation remaining near record lows.
No disaster, but certainly it is not good news.

The risk is the destruction of wealth will continue and this will see consumers cut their spending to a point where the economy stalls and the unemployment rate starts to climb at a truly worrying rate.

 

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THE LATEST FROM THE KOUK

Get ready for a cash rate cut in April

Mon, 25 Mar 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance website at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/get-ready-cash-rate-cut-april-193244245.html

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Get ready for a cash rate cut in April

The data is in and it is compelling.

The Australian economy is faltering and the risk is that it will weaken further if nothing is done to address this decline.Not only has there been recent confirmation of a per capita GDP recession – that is, on a per person basis the economy has been shrinking for two straight quarters – but inflation is embedded below 2 per cent, wages growth is floundering just above 2 per cent, house prices are dropping at 1 per cent per month and dwelling construction is in free fall.

Add to this cocktail of economic woe an unambiguous slide in global economic conditions, general pessimism for both consumers and business alike and a worrying slide in the number of job advertisements all of which spells economic trouble.Blind Freddie can see that there is an urgent need for some policy action. And the sooner the better.For the Reserve Bank of Australia, there is no need to wait for yet more information on the economy.

It has been hopelessly wrong in its judgment about the economy over the past year, always expecting a growth pick up “soon”. Instead, GDP has all but stalled meaning that inflation, which is already well below the RBA’s target, is likely to fall further.In short, no. It is not like a 25 basis point interest rate cut on 2 April and another 25 in, say, May or June will reignite inflation and pump air into a house price bubble.

Such a claim would be laughable if there are any commentators left suggesting this.

Is the Aussie economy slowdown good or bad news for you?

Mon, 04 Mar 2019

This article first appeared on the Yahoo Finance web site at this link: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/aussie-economy-slowdown-good-bad-news-015353581.html 

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Is the Aussie economy slowdown good or bad news for you?

Your economic well-being is undergoing some significant changes at the moment. Whether that is good or bad news depends on your home ownership status and intentions to buy, and the amount of money you have in invested in shares either directly or indirectly in your superannuation fund.

To the stock market first

Having been beaten down late last year, the Australian stock market has staged a powerful pick up. Compared with the low point in December, the ASX200 has risen over 12 per cent in two months. This is, quite clearly, great news for your superannuation balance and for your wealth if you own any shares directly.

The change in sentiment about interest rates and a solid profit reporting season has underpinned this jump in share prices and with US and local interest rates set to remain low or be lowered in the months ahead, share prices should continue to do well.

Falling house prices met with dismay and joy

From the perspective of personal finances, the news on falling house prices has been greeted with both dismay and joy. Home owners in Sydney Melbourne, Perth and Darwin and reeling under the weight of wealth destruction with prices down by between 10 and 25 per cent.

In Sydney, for example, that house that was valued at $1 million back in the middle of 2017 is now worth around $870,000, a drop of $130,000 in less than two years.

Ouch!