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IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.

Tuesday, 19 September


Mean dwelling price rises to $679,100 "IndyWatch Feed"

Dwelling stock rises to $6.7 trillion

Four times per year we get the unbridled pleasure of the official residential property price indexes. 

Here, then, is a 60-second overview of the June 2017 quarter figures. 

The total value of Australia's dwelling stock rose by +$631 billion or +10.4 per cent to $6.72 trillion in the 2017 financial year. 

That now represents a +53 per cent increase in dwelling stock value from the $4.4 trillion recorded at the end of 2011. 

I'd take the data series back further, but since it only begins in Q3 of that calendar year, I can't.

The annual stock value gains were mainly driven by the two most populous states. New South Wales (+$336 billion) and Victoria (+$215 billion) accounted for some 87 per cent of the total increase. 

Detached houses have outperformed attached dwellings on average since 2003, reflecting rising land values and a relative scarcity of this dwelling type in the thriving, landlocked suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.



BREAKING: Light has been stored as sound for the first time "IndyWatch Feed"

The future of computing depends on it.

By Fiona MacDonald

For the first time ever, scientists have stored light-based information as sound waves on a computer chip something the researchers compare to capturing lightning as thunder.

Light-based or photonic computers have the potential to run at least 20 times faster than your laptop, not to mention the fact that they wont produce heat or suck up energy like existing devices.

This is because they, in theory, would process data in the form of photons instead of electrons.

We say in theory, because, despite companies such as IBM and Intel pursuing light-based computing, the transition is easier said than done.

Coding information into photons is easy enough we already do that when we send information via optical fibre.

But finding a way for a computer chip to be able to retrieve and process information stored in photons is tough for the one thing that makes light so appealing: its too damn fast for existing microchips to read.

This is why light-based information that flies across internet cables is currently converted into slow electrons. But a better alternative would be to slow down the light and convert it into sound.

And thats exactly what researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia have now done.

The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain, said project supervisor Birgit Stiller.

It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.

12:24 expanding outside of EU by adding POLi payment method for New Zealand and Australian customers "IndyWatch Feed"

It is only a matter of time now before cryptocurrencies become completely mainstream. Bitcoin is far more advanced when compared to other cryptocurrencies., an online bitcoin-purchasing platform, is looking to be at the very front of this shift towards a crypto-economy. Bitcoin is a secure and private way to hold money while also guaranteeing Continue reading expanding outside of EU by adding POLi payment method for New Zealand and Australian customers

The post expanding outside of EU by adding POLi payment method for New Zealand and Australian customers appeared first on NEWSBTC.


A rare outbreak of unanimity on PFI "IndyWatch Feed"

Im doing some work on privatisation and wanted to look at recent UK experience with the Private Finance Initiative. So, I Googled for PFI in the last year (as Google personalizes searches, your mileage may vary). The result is a surprising degree of unanimity. Across the political spectrum, there is agreement that

* PFI is a disaster, enriching private firms at the expense of the public
* The other side is (mostly) to blame

Excluding some references to an Indian political group and some data sources, the top hits are, in order:

PFI is bankrupting Britain (Guardian)

Private firms poised to make another 1bn(Guardian)

Hundreds of schools held hostage over PFI contracts (Telegraph)

Costly legacy of Labours PFI shambles (Daily Mail)

Tories accused of double standards for promoting PFI (Financial Times)

NHS leaking millions in PFI contracts (BBC)


Australian Dollar and Bitcoin "IndyWatch Feed"

1.00 AUD = 0.0002 BTC
0.0010 BTC = 5.00 AUD


The result is in the mail "IndyWatch Feed"

We got our equal marriage survey forms in the mail yesterday, and posted them back today. From what Ive seen, about half the forms were delivered last week and nearly all will be done by Friday. And I imagine, most people will either respond straight away or not at all. So, it was kind of strange to see the official campaigns being launched at the weekend, rather as if an ordinary election campaign started at lunchtime on election day*.

On the other hand, the results wont be announced until November, and the ABS is working hard to prevent any release of partial information. Thats if the votes were kept under lock and key on election night and not counted until the last postals and absentees had come in.

* For byzantine funding reasons, the major parties now leave their election launch until the week before election day, when quite a few people have already voted. But this is taking it a step further.


Its Time To Admit It: They Cant Even Count "IndyWatch Feed"

Debates are supposed to be argued on the facts. When we discuss things like Australias housing bubble, Brexit, the financial crisis, and retirement ages, we argue using facts. To some extent, anyway.

Youve probably quoted many of the facts in discussions with your friends and family.

Like facts about Australias housing shortage. Or net migration to the UK, which sits at around 250,000 a year, making many people vote in favour of Brexit.

According to a long-standing media furore, huge amounts of foreign students vanish into the British workforce each year, instead of going home at the end of their degree.

Or you mightve mentioned the worlds whopping US$225 trillion of debt when discussing the impossibility of high interest rates. And how the Greek governments debt to GDP ratio of 180% still isnt solved.

There are vast underfunded pensions that we must find a way to honour too. The World Economic Forum says the funding gap will be US$224 trillion by 2050 for the six biggest pension systems, of which Australia is one.

But what if all the figures are wrong? What if your facts are dodgy? What if people cant count?

Where would that leave our discussions, votes and policies? What sense would analysis, debate and data-driven decisions make then?

None at all.

Unfortunately, it looks like we cant count. All too often, our facts are baloney.

Recently, all sorts of dodgy data have been exposed. To the point where you have to admit it

They just cant count anything

The UKs immigration figures which pushed Brexit over the line were based on small-scale surveys done at airports. Seriously. And those are the governments official figures.

The surveys missed tens of thousands of people leaving the UK, especially the much-maligned foreign students who were accused of vanishing into the workforce to steal British jobs. It turns out barely any stay. The new immigration system, which exposed the pathetic old one, still doesnt match up with airline data. The private sector actually counts people properly

But it also hides numbers

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) recently discovered $14 trillion in debt it didnt know about. Using derivatives, firms can borrow vast amounts of money in a hidden way that looks like wheeling and dealing, but is in reality funding their operations.

This shows how pathetic and pointless attempts at regulation and deleveraging are. Corporate finance responds to incentives, not slack laws with more holes than Swiss cheese, and without personal consequences for...

Monday, 18 September


SQM sees rental shortages by 2019 "IndyWatch Feed"


SQM Research reported that vacancy rates fell across most capital cities in the month of August 2017.

The national vacancy rate of 2.2 per cent was marginally lower than the 2.3 per cent seen at the same time in the prior year. 

Melbourne (1.7 per cent) and Hobart (0.4 per cent) in particular are seeing sharp increases in median asking rents, while the vacancy rate in Adelaide was down to just 1.6 per cent from 1.9 per cent a year earlier.

In fact, Hobart has the lowest vacancy rate on record for any capital city, and both rents and prices are exploding higher.  

Vacancy rates ticked down from July in Brisbane (3.1 per cent) and Perth (4.6 per cent) in August.

The rental market Perth needs to improve for landlords - median asking rents are some 34 per cent lower than at their peak according to SQM's asking rents index. 

Meanwhile Darwin has recorded seven consecutive declines in its vacancy rate, suggesting that the rental downturn may finally be over in the Northern Territory. 

Smoothing the last 6 months of figures suggests that the rental market is not deteriorating significantly in most capital cities. 


Bitcoin 'Double Taxation' Relief Bill Introduced in Australia "IndyWatch Feed"

Australia has introduced a new bill that, if passed, would end the country's bitcoin "double taxation" issue.


Trend new motor sales hit record "IndyWatch Feed"

Car sales power on

The so-called "canary in the coalmine" that was falling new motor sales has turned out to be another rubbish indicator.

The canaries have long since carked it, but the trend result for new motor vehicle sales was 100,809 in August 2017, which was the highest ever.

Selfish Urban Vanity

Sports utility vehicles continue to drive the record results, although in reality today's small SUVs, such as the one I drive, is probably more akin to a passenger vehicle rather than anything more rugged. 

Alas, production levels domestically are destined continue their precipitous decline as the industry departs Australian shores. 

Finally, the state level data shows that Melbourne's burgeoning economy continues to power new car sales along.

New South Wales also saw nearly 398,000 units shifted over the past year, for yet another annual record. 



Why Myanmars Insurance Market is the Next Big Thing "IndyWatch Feed"

The market remains closed to foreign insurers, but that is set to change.


Antarctic Caves Found to be Home to New World of Plants and Animals, Heated by Volcano "IndyWatch Feed"

By Markab Algedi

In Antarctic ice, cave systems exist underneath the Ross Island volcano Mount Erebus. Recently, it was discovered that the ice could be the breeding ground for an exciting new world,according to scientists from Australia National University.

They analyzed DNA obtained from the cave system, and found samples they couldnt fully identify. Apparently being unable to identify such a specimen is an anomaly, and it indicates that unidentified species are living in the unique environment. Moss, algae, and other life was found to thrive there.

The caves in close proximity to volcanic Mount Erebus are among the hottest locations on the continent of Antarctica, along with other geothermally heated areas. Heat from the volcano has created vents in the ice, causing volcanic steam to hollow out ice and form extensive and interconnected cave systems, according to Newsweek.

It can be really warm inside the cavesup to 25 degrees Celsius [77 degrees Fahrenheit] in some caves, the lead researcher on the effort Ceidwen Fraser said. You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable. Theres light near the cave mouths, and light filters deeper into some caves where the overlying ice is thin.

The study was published in a journal titled Polar Biology. In it, a team obtained soil samples from 3 volcanoes in Victoria Land, Antarctica, and from Mount Erebus subglacial caves.

The study found many different types of moss, arthropods, nematodes, and algae at every single site. The findings suggest that geothermal areas (heated by volcanic activity) can support life even when it is like an island, far detached from survivable conditions for miles outside the geothermal region.



Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional "IndyWatch Feed"

Last week (September 13, 2017), the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented his State of the Union Address 2017 in Strasbourg before the European Parliament. My only query arising from the speech was which Member State has left, given that the President began his speech by thanking the 27 leaders of our Member States (joke). He opened by saying how unity among the Member States had showed that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters. I wonder which Planet he was referring to. I thought Europe was on the Mother Earth and it certainly hasnt been delivering for its citizens, if the usual measures are considered. Junckers speech just continues what I considered to be Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale, which was the subtitle of my 2015 book Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale. It is amazing that the denial continues after 10 years and that guys like Juncker can still command an audience and a salary.

In heaping praise on his own regime, the EU President said:

We are now in the fifth year of an economic recovery that finally reaches every single Member State.

Growth in the European Union has outstripped that of the United States over the last two years. It now stands above 2% for the Union as a whole and at 2.2% for the euro area.

That statement is true. But the US reached the pre-GFC peak after only 15 quarters whereas it took 27 quarters (3 more years) before the EU28 reached the pre-GFC level and 30 quarters for the Eurozone Member States (taken together).

So the lost output due to the crisis was much higher for the European Union (especially the Eurozone) than it was for the US.

Other nations such as Australia never had a recession because it introduced a large discretionary fiscal stimulus early on in the crisis and held it for long enough to maintain overall growth.

The next graph shows the path of real GDP in the Euro19 Member States from March 1995 to December 2016 (indexed to 100 at the March-quarter 2008 the peak before the GFC).

The simulated line is based on extrapolating out the actual growth path from 1995 to the December-quarter 2007 using the average quarterly growth rate over the period.

Despite the Presidents claims, actual real GDP is only 4.1 per cent higher than it was in the March-quarter 2008 for the Eurozone as a whole.

A comparable figure for the US is 12.7 per cent; for the UK, 9.1 per cent; Norway 11.4 per cent; and Australia 23.7 per cent.

That makes the Eurozones growth look shocking and it has been.



Monday Message Board "IndyWatch Feed"

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.


Australian Dollar and Bitcoin "IndyWatch Feed"

1.00 AUD = 0.0002 BTC
0.0010 BTC = 5.00 AUD


When the Bad Bank Turns Prime "IndyWatch Feed"

If you could only watch one stock this week, Im going to suggest you make it Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group [ASX:CYB].

Its the UK bank that was spun out of NAB a while back. All its operations are in the UK, but its listed here on the ASX too.

The stock was on track to really start running last year, before it ran into a wall called Brexit. Its still picking itself up off the floor. And events might be turning back in its favour.

Heres why we care. The Bank of England is getting jumpy about inflation. Previously, the central planners were saying not to expect a rate increase in the UK until 2019.

Now theyre changing their tune. Their warning rates might rise faster than the market was pricing in. The pound rose and UK government bonds sold off late last week.

A rate rise might be as soon as November. But how far and how fast? I guess well find out soon enough.

A rising rate environment would be good for CYB, all things being equal, because it should expand the net interest margin it earns on loans.

Thats the wider backdrop. But what is the bank saying?

Record applications happening here

I looked at CYBs most recent trading update to find out. The bank is saying trading is coming in line with its expectations.

Its seeing solid mortgage growth, and received a record number of applications in the third quarter. Costs are under control. Capital position looks OK.

CYB is a small player in the UK market. The bigger British banks are probably worth a look too, if you comfortable holding international shares.

In August, the jobless rate in the UK fell to 4.4% the lowest since 1975.

Inflation is getting a little too hot for comfort over there, as noted. Its certainly eating any pay gains the average worker is getting. The consequence seems predictable.

The average Brit will look to property and shares to get ahead financially. They will do it with borrowed money and pump it into the asset markets. I expect we will see a higher UK index and higher UK property values from this.

I could be wrong, of course. The uncertainties around Brexit are still swirling all over the place.

But it cant be all bad. Just look at whats happening in Ireland

Something like a quarter of Irish imports come from the UK. Theres strong trade links between these two, despite their differing setups with Europe.

So Ireland is a way of viewing the UK through a different lens.

Ireland is travelling so well that the bad bank, set up after the 2008 crisis, is n...


Canada and Mexico want ISDS in NAFTA, against their own national interests "IndyWatch Feed"

September 18, 2017: Ambassadors from Canada and Mexico have told Politico that their governments want to keep  Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),  despite the fact that most NAFTA ISDS cases have been taken by US companies against their governments. In contrast, US negotiators are reportedly responding to strong US community opposition and may want to make ISDS optional in a revised NAFTA.

ISDS allows foreign investors to sue governments in an international tribunal if they can argue that a change in law at a local, state or national level has harmed their investment.

Canada wants to use as a model the ISDS chapter in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, which attempts to make the tribunal system more independent. The US Trump administration position is not yet public.  But US negotiators are reportedly considering an opt-in clause for each country. This is being opposed by US corporate interests that strongly support ISDS.

Many community groups in all three countries remain strongly opposed to the inclusion of ISDS in the NAFTA. Even if the tribunal system is changed, the issue of already powerful foreign investors being able to sue governments remains. ISDS should be scrapped not sweetened.

IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed Archiver

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IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed Today.

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IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed was generated at Australian News IndyWatch.

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