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Friday, 17 November

23:56

Heads up "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Inward bound

As the economy and especially hiring have picked up, so too has immigration, with long term arrivals into Australia hitting a record high 777,440 over the year to September, for a year-on-year increase of +5.5 per cent. 


Lots of Aussies head overseas too, of course, though ABS research has found that long term departees commonly end up back in Australia pretty quickly. 

Short-term arrivals also hit a record high of 8.72 million over the year to September.

Although the pace of growth here appears to be slowing, the Aussie dollar is now declining again after a brief interlude, which should spur tourism faster, higher, and stronger in 2018.


Oh, and there's the Commonwealth Games boost to come next year too.

Uni corn

Drilling deeper into the figures, unsurprisingly education arrivals are at an all-time high.

The next big international student intake won't show up until the February 2018 figures, but 2017 has been a record year for enrolments, and no doubt a lucrative one.

If you've felt that the inner city centres have become busier in recent years, then you'd be right, with the international student phenomenon being largely an urban trend. 

14:54

Weekend reads - must read articles of the week "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Summarised for you here at Property Update (or click the image below).


While you're there don't forget to subscribe for the free Property Update newsletter.

12:33

Backfire: plebiscite shows appetite for action "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

JUST as the postal plebiscite has blown up in the faces of the conservatives who promoted it, let us hope that any subsequent rearguard sabotage attempt under the guise of freedom of religion does the same thing.

For more than two decades (since Howard was elected Prime Minister) politicians have been utterly risk averse, fearfully imagining that some silent, conservative, Christian majority lurks out there ready to punish them at the slightest hint of social progress on human rights or fairness to the marginalised LGBTIQ, unemployed, refugees, homeless.

Wednesdays result should put paid to that.

But if we are going to turn over some rocks in a debate on religious freedom we might see a greater need for freedom FROM religion, not freedom OF religion.

For a start, religions get a free kick under the Marriage Act. If you are a minister of religion of a recognised denomination you are automatically entitled to be registered as a marriage celebrant.

Civil celebrants, on the other hand, have to meet other requirements, such as knowledge of marriage law, an ability to advise couples of relationship services, and be of good character and standing.

With respect to marriage, surely, we should have the same rules for everyone. Wasnt that demonstrated on Wednesday?

Perhaps we should start a campaign to take religion out of marriage laws altogether. At law, everyone should marry before a competent civil official. If religious people feel that that would not be a real marriage they can go off afterwards and do a religious ceremony.

Further, why does the parliamentary session at which these questions are debated begin with a Christian prayer? If parliamentarians mirror the community, about a quarter would be atheists and most of the rest would not be observant Christians.

Theres more. Why should religions get tax-free status for money raised and spent for proselytising their religion and for raising money through commercial enterprises even if there are grounds for tax breaks on charitable work?

And on the charitable, medical and educational side, why should religious institutions escape ordinary anti-discrimination employment laws, especially when they get very large amounts of public money for this and are significant employers?

And why have we wasted $300 million over the past half decade on the schools chaplaincy program under which educationally untrained religious operatives spout uneducational, unscientifi...

10:50

Debt Rattle November 17 2017 "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Arthur Rothstein Night view, downtown section. Dallas, Texas 1942   Americas Racial Wealth Gap Is Staggering And Government-Created (BI) Australias Private Debt Juggernaut Rolls On (LFE) John Malone says Amazon is a Death Star (CNBC) Einhorn Says Issues That Caused the Crisis Are Not Solved (BBG) Corporate Zombies Are

The post Debt Rattle November 17 2017 appeared first on The Automatic Earth.

10:14

The Weekend Quiz November 18-19, 2017 "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.

1. Larger fiscal deficits as a percentage of GDP typically mean that there are less real resources available for other productive uses.



2. For a nation running a current account deficit, national income adjustments will ensure government fiscal balance is in deficit if the private domestic sector seeks to increase its saving overall as a percentage of GDP.



3. If the central bank pays a positive interest rate on overnight reserves then it no longer would have to conduct open market operations to ensure its policy rate is sustained (ignore any reserve requirements).


...

06:00

Australian Dollar and Bitcoin "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

1.00 AUD = 0.0001 BTC
0.0001 BTC = 1.05 AUD
Converter

00:10

Wanna be startin' somethin' "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Northern Powerhouse

We all know that employment growth since the peak of the resources construction boom in 2012 has been all about Sydney and Melbourne.

Until now!

Queensland is suddenly off to the races, with trend employment growth blazing +4.62 per cent higher across the year to October, by far its strongest annual result since before the financial crisis. 


Of course, it's harder for the most populous states to record such a large percentage increase, but even so, this has suddenly become too big a move to ignore. 

Some questions we've not had to ponder too often in Queensland since 2007 include: where, why, & what are the new jobs? And will it continue?

Where? Pretty much all around the state, as I've looked at here previously (Queensland is the one mainland state where employment is not excessively capital city focused). 

Queensland is also coming from a relatively low base, after a rough trot, and much of the hiring has been part time in nature. 

The likely drivers of the upturn might range from a surge of Chinese visitors and the dollar-driven tourism industry, the commodity price rebound creating jobs upstate, a slew of public sector and NDIS hiring, and perhaps some late spillover or multiplier from the now-fading residential construction bonanza.

Agriculture exports have been strong, so that's another possible bright spot, plus some increased aggregate demand creating services jobs as interstate migration has picked up.

Just from driving around various parts of SEQ, there are evidently an awful lot of roads being built right now, while there are several significant infrastructure projects underway or about to commence in Brisbane.

SEEK...& ye may find

We'll get more detailed number...

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Thursday, 16 November

17:22

This is how we do "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Lucky 13

Another pretty good result for the Aussie economy, with total employment notching a 13th consecutive gain, the best stretch in 23 years. 

Headline employment growth was pretty modest, but there was another significant swing towards full time positions - with the economy adding +236,000 full time jobs since the beginning of the calendar year - and the previous month's result was also revised up, keeping the strong trend intact.


In fact, total employment was a massive +355,700 higher over the year to October 2017 for an increase of +3 per cent, way ahead of the growth in the working age population. 


The annual trend in hours worked was a solid +3.1 per cent growth, the strongest in 7 years.


And the unemployment rate continues to fall, down to a 57-month low of 5.4 per cent.

07:46

Commonwealth Bank commits to exiting coal "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Australian finance giant Commonwealth Bank has indicated it will bring its coal funding down to zero, in line with the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

06:00

Australian Dollar and Bitcoin "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

1.00 AUD = 0.0001 BTC
0.0001 BTC = 1.05 AUD
Converter

02:33

Australia labour market weaker with participation falling "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

The latest labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force data for October 2017 shows that total employment growth was weak although there was relatively good full-time employment growth. Unemployment (and the rate) fell, but only because the participation rate fell. If not, then the unemployment rate would have risen marginally. So no signs of a sustained growth path is emerging. Broad labour underutilisation (underemployment and unemployment) was at 13.3 per cent summing to 1,724 thousand persons, which tells you that there is still considerable slack in the labour market. The teenage labour market deteriorated in October although this cohort shared in the full-time employment growth, which is a good outcome. Overall, my assessment is that there is no discernible trend in the Australian labour market. It shows signs of strength one month, and then backs away from that the next. We are not in a position to say that there is a sustained growth path ahead.

The summary ABS Labour Force (seasonally adjusted) estimates for October 2017 are:

  • Employment increased 3,700 (0.03 per cent) full-time employment increased 24,300 and part-time employment decreased 20,700.
  • Unemployment decreased 8,100 to 701,500.
  • The official unemployment rate decreased 0.1 points to 5.4 per cent.
  • The participation rate decreased 0.1 points to 65.1 per cent. It still remains below its December 2010 peak (recent) of 65.8 per cent.
  • Aggregate monthly hours worked increased 4.6 million hours (0.3 per cent).
  • The monthly labour underutilisation data shows that underemployment was estimated to be 8.2 per cent of the labour force (steady); the total labour underutilisation rate (unemployment plus underemployment) was 13.3 per cent (down from 13.6 per cent); there were 1,057.9 thousand persons underemployed and a total of 1,724 thousand workers either unemployed or underemployed.

Employment growth barely a whimper

Employment increased by a minuscule 3,700 (0.03 per cent) full-time employment increased 24,300 and part-time employment decreased 20,700.

While the growth in full-time employment is a good outcome, the overall employment growth was very weak and follows a fairly weak result the previous month.

A slowdown is looming.

We observed a zig-zag pattern in total employment growth up until the end of 2016. The oscillating pattern has continued into 2017 but the level has risen above the zero line. There is still a switching pattern around the zero line for full-time and part-time that is evident although over the last two mon...

02:31

Top 11 Countries In Which Bitcoin is Banned "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Countries around the world have a wide ranging view of the digital currency bitcoin or a virtual currency. Western superpowers like the United States and United Kingdom have shown a positive attitude towards the new technology. Some countries like Canada and Australia are still deliberating on what to do about Bitcoin, legally. Bitcoin Digits Coming []

01:51

Trumps Last-Ditch Attempt to Avert War with North Korea "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

President Trump wrapped up his historic visit to Asia this week.

Trumps journey was the longest overseas trip of his presidency and the longest Asian visit of any president in 25 years.

After a stopover in Hawaii, Trump proceeded to Japan, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinz Abe, and then to South Korea where he met with President Moon Jae-in.

The capstone of the trip was Trumps arrival on 8 November in Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Much of the reporting on this trip has involved international trade, but its a mistake to focus on that.

This trip was a pre-war gathering of allies (Japan and South Korea) and potential allies (China) in a last-ditch struggle to head off a hot war with North Korea, led by the reckless Kim Jong Un.

At this point, there are only four possible outcomes of the US-North Korea confrontation over nuclear weapons:

  1. Kim Jung Un stands down and gives up his nuclear weapons program.
  1. The US and China combine forces to decapitate the Kim dynasty and force regime change in North Korea.
  1. Preventive attack on North Korea by the US before 20 March 2018.
  1. The US accepts a nuclear-armed North Korea and relies on containment and deterrence to constrain its actions.

Based on public statements of US officials, my recent meetings in Washington with the director of the CIA and the national security adviser and other sources, I estimate the degree distribution of those possible outcomes as follows:

  • Kim stands down: 10%
  • Regime change: 20%
  • War: 70%
  • US lives with nuclear North Korea: 0%.

Trumps visits to Japan and South Korea were about leaving the door open to negotiations in the hope that Kim would stand down while also preparing for war.
Trumps visit to China was about asking for assistance in regime change.
Xi is unlikely to agree to help the US in this regard.

This means war.

Instead, Trump and Xi no doubt discussed Chinas red lines in North Korea so that a war between the US and North Korea does not escalate into a war with China.

Almost none of this is fully priced in public markets, although markets seemed to be getting the message last week.

A war between the US and North Korea will cause a global flight to quality assets and currencies at the expen...

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Tuesday, 14 November

23:48

The Myth of Americas Decline Just Died "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Take a bow Josef Joffe.

In 2013 he wrote a book called The Myth of Americas Decline.

He called BS on the view prevalent then and now that the USA was too bloated, indebted and about to be overrun by China.

Joffe pointed out that pundits wrote off the USA every decade since the Second World War.

First there was the Soviet Unionthen Europethen Japanthen China.

None of them ever hit the top, despite the fretting.

Every week since, Joffes call looked smarter as the US economy recovered out of 2008.

This week took it up another notch altogether

USA to become undisputed leader here

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has now come out and said US oil output in the next 10 years will be the strongest ever seen in the history of the energy market.

This is wildly bullish for the USA and will shower the place in money and influence for decades. Its now on track to become the worlds biggest energy exporter

Thats a good place to be when global energy demand is set to expand by 30% in the next 23 years, according to the IEA. Thats the equivalent of throwing another China and India into the current mix.

The goodies dont stop there for the USA. Not only does it get the money, it gets the power as well.

Consider that China is the worlds largest oil importer. Its dependent on foreign supply.

Right now they call Saudi Arabia the oil markets swing producer. That means it can ramp production up and down to try and manipulate the price to its advantage.

This baton is going to get handed to Washington, in time.

So Chinas economy may be dependent on the USA as its major export market, plus its domestic economy might be held hostage by US energy policy too.

They wont like that idea in Beijing.

China is already trying to diversify its energy supply lines by doing deals with Russia. They might go for a few more for extra insurance after reading the IEA report.

But theres more to this story than geopolitics

A billion in sales every hour on 11 November

Theres great potential for a repeat of the China boom we saw last decade thanks to India and other southeast Asian countries growing their middle class populations.

This is good news for Australia. The LNG export market might be soft at the moment, but theres plenty of demand brewing, right on the front doorstep for us.

The energy projections are one aspect of this. But the expanding middle class in China and India a...

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Monday, 13 November

23:42

The Cracks in Chinas Great Wall of Debt "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Leland Miller, a good friend of mine, is the founder and proprietor of an economic research service called the China Beige Book.

The name beige book was borrowed from the surveys conducted by regional Federal Reserve banks of economic conditions in their regions. (In the days before the internet, the Fed issued hard-copy booklets with different-coloured covers based on subject matter. The economic conditions booklet had a beige-coloured cover. Hence the name.)

Lee does in China what the Fed does in its regions, except he covers the entire country.

He has a diverse network of over 3,000 companies and entrepreneurs in all business sectors. He gets his information straight from the source and bypasses government channels. Its like a private intelligence service.

In fact, Lees network is better than the CIAs when it comes to economic data. The CIA actually turns to Lee for advice.

The detailed research service costs about $100,000 per year for one subscription.

But Lee publishes summaries on a quarterly basis, and they are freely available.

His latest summary doesnt paint a pretty picture

The cracks are starting to appear in Chinas Great Wall of Debt

The China Beige Book (CBB) says that China had been covering up and smoothing over problems related to weak growth and excessive debt.

Why would they do this?

To provide a calm face to the world in advance of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China. This took place last month on Wednesday 18 October. In fact, it was the first key skirmish in a looming global financial war.

CBB also makes it clear that the much-touted rebalancing of the Chinese economy away from investment and manufacturing toward consumption and spending has not occurred.

Instead China has doubled down on excess capacity in coal, steel and manufacturing and has continued its policy of wasteful investment fuelled with unpayable debt.

Its become obvious that the first cracks are starting to appear in Chinas Great Wall of Debt.

The Chinese debt binge of the past 10 years is a well-known story.

Chinese corporations have incurred dollar-denominated debts in the hundreds of billions of dollars, most of which are unpayable without subsidies from Beijing.

Chinas debt-to-equity ratio is over 300%, far worse than Americas (which is also dangerously high) and comparable to that of Japan and other all-star debtors.

Chin...

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Sunday, 12 November

23:35

The Worldwide Rise of the Superbug "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Currently, the Agora Financial Australia office is completely empty. The team is bunkering down in Baltimore, US, for an exclusive conference.

Were connecting with colleagues and experts from all over the world to get a closer look at the trends driving the investment markets.

Well share everything of interest that we find out over the coming weeks.

For today, Im going to share with you a major trend I wrote about in a recent issue of Small Cap Alpha.

This one goes way beyond whats happening in your portfolio.

It could be the most important thing I bring to your attention in the entire year.

Read on to find out why

The worldwide rise of the superbug

If you ever decide to visit India, do yourself a favour and dont order the chicken dish. An unwelcome garnish might be a superbug in your system resistant to antibiotics.

Last year, Bloomberg reported that Indian intensive poultry farms were rampantly using medicines that the World Health Organisation classified as critically important.

One consequence is that bacteria with heightened virulence, and the ability to infect humans, are showing up.

Consumption of chicken in India has skyrocketed over the last 20 years, and is on track to keep going. Meat consumption continues to grow in both India and China, as both countries get richer.

Also on the rise are large-scale farms, which are heavy users of antibiotics. In July this year, another study found the same thing. Indian poultry farms are breeding superbugs.

This is the outcome we get when we combine poor animal husbandry, little regulation, and a booming demand for chicken meat.

Its not unique to India

The resistance develops because exposure to antimicrobial drugs wipes out the target organisms except those with the gene mutations that allow them to survive.

These could quite easily get exported around the world. And its not as if this problem is unique to the subcontinent.

Human societies across the globe are overdosing on antibiotics.

First there are doctors who (over)prescribe it for human patients.

Then theres the people unwittingly developing resistance through food

The drug overdose you dont hear about

70% of essential antibiotics in the US are sold to the livestock industry.

Theres...

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Thursday, 09 November

21:51

How the reign of King Dollar will come to an end "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

PUBLISHERS NOTE: Earlier this week, I caught up with Jim Rickards, live and in person, to discuss the single greatest threat to Australian investors today. It all stems from what Jim calls the great reset. That is, the end of the US dollars reign as the global reserve currency. This has massive implications for Australia. Not least because our biggest trading partner China is Americas greatest foe in this looming financial war. Below, Jim sets the scene for what is a fascinating discussion. Two hundred years ago, Napoleon warned: When China wakes, it will shake the world. Well, China has awakened. And its about to shake the world to its foundations. It starts with the death of the dollarbut it certainly doesnt end there.

My bestselling 2014 book, The Death of Money, is about the demise of the dollar.

By extension, it is also about the potential collapse of the international monetary system because, if confidence in the dollar is lost, no other currency stands ready to take its place as the worlds reserve currency.

The dollar is the linchpin. If it fails, the entire system fails with it, since the dollar and the system are one and the same.

As fearsome a prospect as this dual collapse may be, it looks increasingly inevitable for all the reasons one will find in the pages to come.

A journey to the past is in order first.

Few people in our time recall that the dollar nearly ceased to function as the worlds reserve currency in 1978.

That year, the Federal Reserve dollar index declined to a distressingly low level, and the US Treasury was forced to issue government bonds denominated in Swiss francs.

Foreign creditors no longer trusted the US dollar as a store of value.

The dollar was losing purchasing power, dropping by half from 1977 to 1981; US inflation was over 50% during those five years.

Starting in 1979, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had little choice but to mobilise its resources to issue world money (special drawing rights, or SDRs).

It flooded the market with 12.1 billion SDRs to provide liquidity as global confidence in the dollar declined.

We would do well to recall those dark days

The darks days are set to return

The price of gold rose 500% from 1977 to 1980.

What began as a managed dollar devaluation in 1971, with President Richard Nixons abandonment of gold convertibility, became a full-scale rout by the decades end.

The dollar debacle even seeped into popular culture.

The 1981 film Rollover, starring Jane Fonda, involv...

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Wednesday, 08 November

21:47

Bill Gross: The Market as Dangerous as 2008 "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

John Maynard Keynes once wrote, Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Truer words were never spoken, although if you updated Keynes today, the quote would begin with practical women to take account of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

The defunct economist in question would be William Phillips, inventor of the Phillips curve, who died in 1975.

It was put forward in an academic paper in 1958 and was considered a useful guide to policy in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In its simplest form, the Phillips curve describes an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment.

As unemployment declines, inflation goes up, and vice versa.

By the mid-1970s the Phillips curve broke down. The U.S. had high unemployment and high inflation at the same time, something called stagflation.

Economists began to tweak the original equation to add factors some of which were not empirical at all but model-based.

It became a mess of models based on models, none of which bore any particular relationship to reality. By the early 1980s, the Phillips curve was no longer taken seriously even by academics and seemed buried once and for all. RIP.

But like a zombie from The Walking Dead, the Phillips curve came baaaack!

Heres why US monetary policy doesnt work 

And the person who has done the most to revive it was none other than Janet Yellen.

Janet Yellen is out at the Fed. Her term ends on Feb. 1. Then Trumps appointee, Jerome Powell, takes over. The Senate must confirm this first, but I suspect hell make it through with no problem.

I recently said Powells main qualification seems to be that hes just like Yellen except hes a Republican.

As a Fed governor, Powell has never voted against Janet Yellen on any interest rate policy decision. You shouldnt expect any immediate changes in monetary policy.

The question is this: will Powell eventually abandon the same flawed models like the Phillips curve and embrace more realistic models that mirror the real world?

Fed governors such as Lael Brainard are showing less faith in traditional models.

For example, in September, she delivered one of the most significant Fed speeches ever. She more or less admitted the Fed has no idea how inflation works.

The Feds favourite measure of inflation plunged from 1.9% to 1.3% between January and August 2017 even as job creation continued and the unemployment rate fell. Septembers numbers, which came out last week, came in at 1.6% still below th...

Tuesday, 07 November

15:37

Profit Opportunity as Market Misjudges Feds Next Move "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

Im writing from Australia. Im meeting with over 30 of the largest institutional investors and hedge funds in the country.

Im giving presentations to these investors about Fed policy and the potential for war in North Korea. I was able to learn quite a bit about their views on both developed and emerging markets.

Some of those view will be discussed in a very special Daily Reckoning Australia interview I recorded this week with my Aussie publisher. It will be released later this week stay tuned.

But traveling to foreign countries and taking the local pulse gives you insights that you cant get from the papers or TV. You can learn so much from private conversations over drinks or dinner. I then pass along these insights to you.

Meanwhile, even when Im over 9,500 miles from Washington, D.C., its hard to escape the news that broke late last week

What to expect from the new Fed Chairman

That news which affects investors even here in Australia is President Trumps appointment of Jerome Jay Powell as new chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell will replace Janet Yellen, beginning next February.

I worked with Jay Powell when he was at the U.S. Treasury. I was general counsel of a major primary dealer in government securities at the time. In effect, Jay was my firms biggest customer.

My impression was that he was highly professional and always acted in the best interests of the Treasury and the taxpayers.

Hes smart, has integrity and has a distinguished career both in public service and in a private capacity at investment funds and think tanks.

Jay Powell is someone who is well liked and well regarded by Republicans and Democrats equally. Thats a rare attribute in todays deeply partisan political scene.

The most important fact about Jay Powells appointment is that there will be no change in monetary policy. As a Fed governor, Powell has never voted against Janet Yellen on any interest rate policy decision.

His speeches indicate strong support for Yellens approach. In short, Powell will be more Yellen when it comes to Fed interest rate policy. The Fed chair is changing, but interest rate policy is not.

Beginning in December 2015, Janet Yellen put the Fed on a path to raise interest rates 0.25% every March, June, September and December, a tempo of 1% per year through 2019, until the Fed normalizes interest rates around 3%.

The only exception to this 1%-per-year tempo is when the Fed takes a pause in hiking rates because one part of its dual mandate of job creation and price stability is not being met.

Lately job creation has been strong (despite a small hurr...

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