Browsing articles in "property"
Thursday 30th June 2016 - 1:49 pm
Comments Off on Our wealth: the $13.2 billion hit

Our wealth: the $13.2 billion hit

by Alan Thornhill

Australians have suffered their first fall in household net wealth since the September quarter of 2011.

 

This is shown in figures that the Australian Bureau of Statistics published today.

 

The Bureau said that during the quarter, household net worth fell by $13.2b.

 

“During the quarter, household net worth decreased by $13.2b, its first decrease since September quarter 2011,” the Bureau said.

 

It said the fall was  driven by “holding gains (real and neutral)  -of -$44.1b.”

 

Holding losses on financial assets, like shares, in the quarter were $46.5b.

 

These were driven by valuation decreases in the listed equities market ($17.8b) and insurance technical reserves (driven by superannuation assets) of $37.3b.

 

Households recorded holding losses of $2.2b on land and dwellings during March quarter.

 

This was their second consecutive quarterly loss, following holding losses of $8.0b in December quarter.

 

The Bureau put our household net worth at $8,640.6b at the end of the March quarter.

 

It said this was made  up mainly of $5,904.7b of land and dwelling assets and $4,305.2b of financial assets.

 

But they were set against $2,234.9b of household liabilities.

 

The Bureau  also said transactions in net worth were driven by net capital formation of $11.9b, of which net acquisitions of land and dwellings were $10.9b while other non-financial assets amounted to $1.0b.

 

It said net financial transactions were $11.3b, of which net acquisition of financial assets were $38.5b and net incurrence of liabilities were $27.2b.

 

The major contributors to financial assets transactions were net equity in reserves of pension funds ($17.7b) and deposits ($12.8b).

 

Households incurred liabilities predominately through long term loan borrowings ($26.3b).

The Bureau said holding losses on financial assets in the quarter were $46.5b.

 

These were driven by valuation decreases in the listed equities market ($17.8b) and insurance technical reserves (driven by superannuation assets) of $37.3b.

 

Households recorded holding losses of $2.2b on land and dwellings during March quarter 2016, their second consecutive quarterly loss, following holding losses of $8.0b in December quarter 2015.

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Wednesday 29th June 2016 - 5:16 pm
Comments Off on Engineering construction:some big movements

Engineering construction:some big movements

by Alan Thornhill

Private spending on engineering construction fell by 9 per cent in  the first three months of this year, on trend estimates that the Bureau of Statistics published today.

This fall, which came at the end of the mining boom,  took private   spending in this area, in the the 12 months to the end of March, to a level 23.1 per cent below that seen in the  previous 12  months.

The Statistician also noted that the value of engineering construction for the public sector rose by 4 per cent in the March quarter  and 13.1 per cent over the year, on trend estimates.

On seasonally adjusted figures, private sector spending in this  area fell by 3.3 per cent in the March quarter and 17.9 per cent over the year.

Public sector spending, on engineering construction though, rose by 3.3 per cent and 11.4 per cent over the year, on seasonally adjusted estimates.

Sunday 26th June 2016 - 3:23 pm
Comments Off on PM urges Australians to vote for “stability”

PM urges Australians to vote for “stability”

by Alan Thornhill

Malcolm Turnbull says:  “the shockwaves in the past 48 hours from Britain’s vote to exit the European Union are a sharp reminder of the volatility in the global economy.”

Delivering his policy speech in Sydney for the July 2 elections, the Prime Minister also spoke of the need for stable majority government, experienced economic leadership and a national economic plan.

An edited copy of  his 4,000 word speech is reproduced below.

After praising senior Liberals who attended the launch, Mr Turnbull said Australia needs a national economic plan  which “recognises the nature of our times – both the opportunities and challenges – and gives us the resilience we need to succeed.”

“Only the Liberal National Coalition can deliver that plan, that security, that leadership,” he added.

“Everything we seek to achieve, all of our hopes, our dreams depend on strong economic growth, “ Mr Turnbull said.

In a strong economy, business is  confident and  prepared to risk investing, expanding and hiring.”

Mr Turnbull said:  “Our business tax cuts encourage small and medium businesses to do just that.

“A strong economy means a mum whose kids are now at school and wants to work a few more days, or work full time, will have plenty of opportunities to do so,” Mr Turnbull said.

“And our childcare reforms will make it easier for her to do so too,” he added.

“It means that young men and women who have left school and are looking for a job will find an employer who is hiring and is happy to give them a start.”

“Our PaTH program with job training and internships will provide additional support to youth employment,”Mr Turnbull added.

A strong economy means we can fund our Innovation and Science Agenda to ensure our kids learn the digital skills of the 21st century, our research is commercialised to create jobs here at home and investors support start-up companies.

A strong economy means that senior Australians know their children will be in good jobs, their investments will deliver better returns and that Government will have growing revenues to support their pensions and health care.

It means that the farmer is getting much better prices for his cattle and can afford to hire a local contractor to replace his fences, clean out a dam or build a new hay shed.

It means the cafe, the restaurant, the hotel has more tourists and they hire more staff to cater for them.

All thanks to our export trade deals.

A strong economy means that builders will be hard at work on new homes and tradesmen will have more jobs.

It means that a manufacturer has more export orders, can buy more equipment, hire more workers and expand their business.

A stronger economy means we can fund over $50 billion in 21st century road, rail and other infrastructure including the Western Sydney Airport and the 39,000 jobs it will create.

“A stronger economy means we can afford to fund world-class education and health services, including Medicare, without weighing down our children and grandchildren with more debt and deficits,” Mr Turnbull said.

A strong economy means we can meet and beat our international obligations  to address climate change and do so without massive hikes in electricity prices as Labor would do.

“We have a national economic plan because the prosperity and security of 24 million Australians depend on it,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said success in the 21st Century cannot be taken for granted.

“Always expect the unexpected.”

“We will need to renegotiate vital trade deals with Europe and Britain,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We concluded five in the last three years – Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“In six years Labor concluded none,” he said.

“We have carefully considered what we need to do to succeed, to make the transition from an economy fired up by a once in a century mining construction boom to one that is more diverse, more innovative, smarter, more productive – an economy that wins, and keeps on winning.”

“So there is a clear cut choice at this election,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We present our fellow Australians with a national economic plan every element of which supports more investment, stronger economic growth and more jobs.

“Our plan invests $1.1 billion to promote leading-edge innovation in our industries and to prepare our children for the jobs of the future.”

Our plan promotes export trade deals to generate 19,000 new export opportunities, giving our businesses premium access to the biggest economies in our region.

Our plan invests in local defence industries to ensure every defence dollar possible supports advanced manufacturers and thousands of Australians jobs.

Our Enterprise Tax Plan provides tax relief to tens of thousands of small-to-medium family businesses now and to all companies over time so they can invest, grow and hire more Australians.

“On the other hand, our opponents in the Labor Party have no economic plan.”

“Labor believes its best hope of being elected is to have trade union officials phone frail and elderly Australians in their homes at night, to scare them into thinking they are about to lose something which has never been at risk,” Mr Turnbull said.

“That’s not an alternative government, that’s an Opposition unfit to govern.”

Every element of Labor’s platform would discourage investment and employment.

He described it as: “a recipe for economic stagnation.”

“If returned at this election, we will convene a joint sitting to restore the rule of law in the construction industry and reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Mr Turnbull said.

So Australians could  have the building infrastructure  they need  “at a price they can afford.”

He said:  “housing values would fall in a fragile property market and rents would rise, because of Labor’s investment destroying ban on negative gearing and 50 per cent hike in capital gains tax.

“This threat is real.

“ So we need to be crystal-clear about what our votes will mean,” Mr Turnbull said.

“If your local vote is for Labor, Greens or an Independent, and you are in one of the 20 or so key battleground seats across the country, it is a vote for the chaos of a hung Parliament, a budget black hole, big Labor taxes, less jobs and more boats,” he warned.

Only a Liberal or National vote ensures stable government, a clear economic plan, real funding for the aged, Medicare and education; more jobs and strong borders.

Mr Turnbull urged Australians to: ““Vote for your local Liberal or National in the House and in the Senate.”

“In the last calendar year, there were 300,000 new jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent is well beneath what was anticipated when the Coalition came to office,” he added.

None of this happens by chance. Strong economic leadership supporting hard-working Australians means that, even with difficult global headwinds, we continue to grow our economy and expand our workforce.

And, today, I can announce additional policies from our Coalition team to support our national economic plan for jobs and growth.

Mr Turnbull said his government is determined to ensure none of our regional communities are left behind as we make the transition to a stronger new economy.

“… our regions must be at the frontline of the drive for innovation, jobs and growth,” Mr Turnbull said.

Our ‘Regional Jobs Fund’ is a major commitment… he added.

“As we build a stronger economy, it is vital that we also do all we can to ensure all Australians, especially young Australians, are not left behind,” he added.

So the Coalition woulds deliver a record $73.6 billion over the next four years for all Australian schools,” he said.

“Today, I can announce an additional $48 million for scholarships under the Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, to help disadvantaged students to complete year 12 and transition to work or further education and training,” he added.

“The Coalition will also invest $31 million in programs to encourage more girls and women to study and work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Mr Turnbull said.

It would also help older Australians get smartphones.

He said only about one household in five, with people aged 60 or above, had a smartphone.

“To make their lives easier, to help them retain their independence, and to keep them connected to families and friends, I am announcing today a $50 million Coalition strategy to assist seniors who want to improve their digital literacy skills,” he said.

“And as announced earlier today, my Government will be investing $192 million more in front line mental health services including twelve suicide prevention sites around Australia and ten more headspace centres; and at the same time using smart phone and other technology to make these services more accessible,” he said.

This complements our support for Veterans’ mental health programs, itself a reminder that we best honour the diggers of Gallipoli and Fromelles by supporting the veterans and their families of today.

Mr Turnbull said; “only a strong Australia can be a safe Australia.

“After six years of abject Labor neglect and indecision, our continuous shipbuilding strategy will ensure Australia retains a sovereign capability to build and sustain naval vessels, securing thousands of advanced manufacturing jobs for decades to come,” he added.

Mr Turnbull said:”Labor’s abandonment of John Howard’s proven border protection policy opened the door to the people-smugglers:

The results had included:-

  • 50,000 unauthorised arrivals on 800 boats,
  • 1200 deaths at sea, of which we know,
  • Over 8000 children put into detention,
  • 17 detention centres opened, and
  • An $11 billion border protection budget blowout.

“In contrast, the Coalition has restored security at the border, integrity to our immigration program – and with it, public trust,” he said.

“I am proud to announce that today marks 700 days without a successful people-smuggling venture to our country,” he added.

“I am also very proud to announce that we have removed every child from detention in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

Labor had failed Australia before.

“The people-smugglers are looking for the earliest sign that an Australian government will waver,” he added.

Mr Turnbull said: “our policies are tough.

“But  these policies have stopped the drownings at sea, and restored the integrity of, and trust in, our large but orderly immigration and refugee programs,” he added.

To further strengthen our domestic security I announce initiatives that go to that most fundamental of liberties – the right to live without fear of violence.

Mr Turnbull also said: “my first announcement as Prime Minister was a new $100 million package to encourage all Australians to confront squarely and honestly the ugly truth of violence against women and children in our society.

“Today, I can announce a $64 million commitment to crack down on the trafficking of illegal firearms on our streets, in particular by criminal gangs,” he added.

He said he is asking Australians to make a clear choice — to back a strong and stable Coalition majority government that can press ahead with its plan for a stronger new economy.

That would deliver the economic security that enables Australians to fulfill their aspirations.

“That is why I am asking my fellow Australians at this election to support our Coalition’s National Economic Plan for a Strong New Economy,” he said.

Friday 24th June 2016 - 1:11 pm
Comments Off on High Brexit vote hits markets

High Brexit vote hits markets

by Alan Thornhill

The $A tumbled today, as the vote to leave the EU came in higher than expected.

 

However, a short time ago, the BBC still had the vote to stay higher than the vote to leave.

 

At that point, 2,933,388 Britons had voted to stay in the EU.

 

But 2,841,709 had voted to leave.

 

The $A fell by 1.35 per cent, to 75.35 US cents in the confusion that followed the unexpectedly high vote to leave.

 

That vote is seen, in large part, as a product of British impatience with calls for austerity.

 

But British Conservatives are being urged today to maintain their faith in the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who campaigned hard for the no vote, that would keep Britain in the EU.

Wednesday 22nd June 2016 - 4:55 pm
Comments Off on Brighter times ahead

Brighter times ahead

by Alan Thornhill

The Australian economy is likely to see brighter times in the months ahead.

This is suggested by a Leading Index that was published today.

Senior Westpac economist, Matthew Hassan said that between December and  May there had been a  stabilisation in both equity markets and dwelling approvals.

He said the bank’s Leading Index rose by 0.2 points in May to 97.

However Mr Hassan said those improvements had been offset by both falls in both consumer expectations between December and May  and aggregate hours worked.

 

“The Reserve Bank Board next meets on July 5,” Mr Hassan said.

 

The key considerations are still around the outlook for inflation, with the June quarter inflation report due on July 27.

“We expect no change in the cash rate and no substantive changes in the Governor’s statement accompanying the decision.

“However, it remains our assessment that the June quarter inflation read will reconfirm to the Board that, on a ‘no policy change’ basis, inflation is unlikely to return to the Bank’s 2-3 per cent target over the forecast horizon.

 

“And… another 25 basis point cut is necessary with that cut being delivered at the Board’s meeting on August 2”, Mr Hassan said.

 

 

Tuesday 21st June 2016 - 1:05 pm
Comments Off on Apartment prices ease as elections approach

Apartment prices ease as elections approach

by Alan Thornhill

Apartment prices fell – by 0.2 per cent – early this year for the first time since the September quarter of 2012.

 

The Bureau of Statistics said the fall was registered on its Residential Property Price Index.

 

It occurred as the July 2 elections approached.

 

The index covers the nation’s eight capital cities.

 

The bureau said attached dwellings, such as apartments, largely drove price falls.

It said the attached dwellings price index fell 0.8 per cent in the March quarter.

 

Falls were recorded in Melbourne (-1.3 per cent), Sydney (-0.6 per cent), Perth (-1.1 per cent), Canberra (-1.1 per cent) and Adelaide (-0.4 per cent).

 

But there were also rises.

 

In Brisbane apartment prices rose 0.7 per cent, Hobart prices rose  2.3 per cent and those in Darwin rose 0.1 per cent.

Established house prices for the eight capital cities were flat.

The total value of Australia’s 9.7 million residential dwellings increased $15.4 billion to $5.9 trillion.

 

 

The average price of dwellings in Australia is now $613,900.

Sunday 19th June 2016 - 7:04 pm
Comments Off on Shorten sharp:Labor chief’s warnings

Shorten sharp:Labor chief’s warnings

by Alan Thornhill

Bill Shorten sought to inspire Australian voters with a speech he gave today.

 
Acknowledging that the Labor party he leads polls more strongly among women than men, Mr Shorten opened his speech with a line that reverses an old favourite, of Australian politicians.

 
“Women and men of Australia,” he declared.

 

An edited version of his 5,000 word speech is reproduced below.

As expected, Mr Shorten concentrated on traditional Labor themes, health, education and jobs, while attacking the government’s “arrogance.”

And he warned that the Liberals pose a real threat to Medicare .

Mr Shorten said: “ We gather as one united party: ready to serve, ready to lead, ready for government.”

He declared that “a great future is within Australia’s reach” – and  said he is “certain that Labor has the plans to grasp it.”
“Labor knows “… that this election can be won…”Mr Shorten said

“Mr Turnbull says he’s got this in the bag, he claims he’s already won it,” Mr Shorten added.

“I say to him – never underestimate Labor.

“You ain’t seen anything yet, has he?”

“… only a Labor Government will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, Mr Shorten said.
Only Labor would:-

*…. fund our schools and protect Medicare.
*….create jobs and build roads, rail and a proper National Broadband Network.
On aborigines, Mr Shorten said:-“I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respects to elders past and present,“…but let our respect travel past words into action.
“ because as long as a young Aboriginal man is more likely to go to jail than university, words are not enough. Action matters. ”
“Friends, our issues are starting to bite – please, keep up the great work, we count on all of you.
Mr Shorten thanked three previous Labor Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard who attended his launch and mentioned Kevin Rudd who is overseas.

He said that under Labor “… Medicare stays.”
Mr Shorten also said: “We’ve got the best people, we’ve got the best policies and we’ve got the best plan to pay for them.”
He said Labor would be :” …accountable and responsible for every single dollar.”

It would deliver: “Only policies that we can fund, only policies our country can afford.
“We will not be a big spending government.
“We will be a government for the fair go, fully paid for.

“Bringing down the deficit each and every year.
Mr Shorten said: “… the difference in competing economic visions has never been sharper or starker:
“A Labor party investing in people, in productivity, in infrastructure and technology.

“And a Liberal party asking for three more years on the back of one bad idea.
“A $50 billion giveaway to big business, $30 billion of which goes straight overseas.
“This is not a plan for the Australian economy – it is foreign aid for foreign companies.

“Treasury has put a final figure on the economic benefits, such as they are.

“A growth dividend of 0.1 per cent a year.

“Zero. Point. One.

“$50 billion dollars for a benefit that rounds down to zero.

“But at least Mr Turnbull has already told us already how he is going to fill the void it that will leave in the Budget – a 15 per cent GST, on everything.

“Or ripping every single Commonwealth dollar out of every single government school.

“And letting the states loose to charge their own income tax.

“Make no mistake, if the Liberals win, we shouldn’t be worried about Mr Turnbull breaking his promises, we should be worried about him keeping his promises.

“Mr Turnbull’s plan, such as it is, means a $7.4 billion windfall for Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and NAB.

“Three out of four of these are under investigation for rigging the interest rates of Australians trying to save for a home, pay-off a mortgage or plan for a self-funded retirement.

Mr Shorten said: “The Australian economy needs a real jobs plan.”

And he said that was what Labor would provide. (see earlier story)

Mr Shorten also said: “… the two most important things for an economy in transition are: public investment in infrastructure and education.

‘Building and teaching.

“Labor will do both.

“We will turbo-charge Infrastructure and create a new ‘Concrete Bank’.

“We will clear away the market blockages that hold back our superannuation investing in good projects.

“We will build if given the opportunity by the Australian people, the Perth Metronet, AdeLINK, the Melbourne Metro and of course Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail.

“And we will build the Western Sydney Rail Line connecting fast growing communities.

“We’ll back this up with 15,000 new places for apprentices – of all ages – right across the nation.

“And we will clean-out the dodgy private colleges undermining vocational training in this country.

“Politics, as you understand, is about choices,” Mr Shorten said.

“We choose TAFE.

“We choose local content.

“We choose the apprenticeship system.”

“We choose renewable energy and Australian steel because we believe advanced manufacturing has a future in this country.”

On schools, Mr Shorten said: “We will build – and we will teach.

“And our future as a knowledge economy depends upon the National Broadband Network, “ Mr Shorten said.
“It’s vital to small businesses in the regions engaging in our region.”

But Mr Turnbull has made a horrible mess of the NBN.

The cost is now double what he promised – and it’s going to take as twice as long to build.

Australia’s ranking has collapsed from 30th to 60th in the world in global internet speeds.

“I suppose, this was the perfect preview for his time as Prime Minister.

“Over-promise, under-deliver and take forever to get to the point.

“Australia deserves so much better than this.
“A new Labor Government will connect up to 2 million more homes and businesses to a first-rate fibre National Broadband Network.

“Equality for women will be a national mission for my government,” Mr Shorten added.

“That would mean:-
A minimum of 18 weeks paid parental leave, guaranteed.
Better childcare, sooner – for 800,000 working families.
He said, ,too, that Family violence is not a family matter – it is a national disgrace.
Mr Shorten also said, Labor would provide “…will provide the leadership in the Parliament to deliver marriage equality within our first 100 days.”

And he added: “There is a hidden story in our country.

“Teenagers are taking days off school to attend the funerals of classmates who have taken their own life.

“Parents sitting at kitchen tables, numb with incomprehension, shattered by grief, trying to write a eulogy for their child. No parent should ever bury their child.

“Yet seven Australians die every day at their own hand.

“Every single day.

“We can do better than this.

“A new Labor Government will start by providing $72 million for 12 regional suicide prevention project, Mr Shorten said.

He said the election on July 2 would be “ a referendum on the future of Medicare.

“Medicare is the community standard, it’s the gold standard, it speaks to Australians about who we are,” he added.

“And Medicare costs Australia far less than other countries pay, and we get better care,” Mr Shorten said.

And he added:”The Liberals have given the Productivity Commission new riding instructions, to investigate privatising human services and Americanising Medicare.

“This is Mr Turnbull’s second strike on Medicare and we know he won’t stop, he won’t rest,” Mr Shorten added.

Wednesday 15th June 2016 - 12:58 pm
Comments Off on Confidence strong – and a rate cut “coming”

Confidence strong – and a rate cut “coming”

by Alan Thornhill

Consumer confidence has eased in Australia, but it is still strong.

The Westpac bank, which published this assessment, with  its June consumer confidence figures today, also predicted that another rate cut would “prove to be necessary, ” probably next year

It said optimists still outnumber pessimists, among Australian consumers.

However its index of consumer sentiment fell 1 per cent in June, to 102.2 per cent.

The unusually high level of 103.2 per cent seen in May followed the surge that occurred after the Reserve Bank unexpectedly cut interest rates.

Westpac Senior Economist, Matthew Hassan, said that: “coming after an 8.5 per cent surge in May, the small decline in June mostly represents a consolidation at improved levels.”

“Last month’s surprise rate cut from the RBA was the main catalyst behind May’s rally and although confidence has slipped back a touch in June this is a fairly common pattern following an interest rate driven bounce,” Mr Hassan said.

He said, too, that: “responses to additional questions on ‘news recall’ point to a somewhat calmer backdrop compared to March.

However the majority of consumers still assessed news as being unfavourable.

The highest recall levels were for news on ‘economic conditions’ (27.8 per cent) and ‘Budget & tax’ (25 per cent), he said.

But both were noticeably lower than in previous quarters.

That is despite the May Budget and campaigning in the lead up to next month’s Federal election.

News on ‘international conditions’ was also much less prominent (at 10 per cent).

This was the lowest read on this item in more than a decade.

Unsurprisingly, there was higher recall for news on interest rates at 16.5 per cent, Mr Hassan said.

“Responses to additional questions on the ‘wisest place for savings’ showed a slightly less risk averse tone but attitudes still appear to be more conservative than seen throughout 2015.

The proportion of consumers nominating ‘pay down debt’ fell from 24.4 per cent in March to 20 per cent in June.

Consumers also continue to heavily favour ‘safe’ options as well, with the proportion nominating bank deposits rising from 27.4per cent in March to 29.5 per cent in June.

That contrasts with continued lower readings for the proportion nominating real estate (15.8 per cent in June vs an average of 25.4 per cent in 2015).

“Consumer views on housing also consolidated in June.

“ The ‘time to buy a dwelling’ index declined 2.7per cent but the retracement followed a strong 12.1 per cent surge in May,” Mr Hassan said.

Price expectations also firmed in the month with the Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of House Price Expectations up 3.6 per cent to the highest level since September 2015.

“However, both buyer sentiment and price expectations are still well below the readings seen a year ago,” Mr Hassan said.

He said, too, that:“the Reserve Bank Board next meets on July 5.

Mr Hassan said a move at that meeting is highly unlikely.

In fact, he suggests that the next rate cut might not occur this year.

The key considerations for the Bank are around the outlook for inflation, he said.

On its current forecasts the RBA does not expect inflation to return to the bottom of the band until 2017.

And that is on the assumption of a further rate cut given that the Bank’s forecasts are based on ‘market pricing’ for rates.

The most important and immediate information about whether the RBA’s May assessment is correct will come from the June quarter inflation report which prints on July 27, after the July Board meeting but ahead of the August 2 convention,” Mr Hassan said.

“It is our assessment that the information in this report will confirm to the Board that another cut is indeed necessary”, he added.

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