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Friday, 23 February


More jobs & growth "IndyWatch Feed"

More jobs

We've seen plenty of evidence that the labour market is picking up through 2017.

And that continues in 2018, with the trend skilled vacancies now heading up for 16 consecutive months. 

Skilled vacancies increase by +10.6 per cent to 183,600 over the year to January 2018, according to the Department of Employment after notching yet another monthly gain. 

The index is now +31.4 per cent or +43,900 vacancies higher than at the October 2013 low point and rising solidly. 

There were robust gains around the states, although the trend for South Australia has been meandering a bit. 

Easier to find work

The median duration of job search also now looks to be falling. 

The fastest city to find a job in has been Sydney for some time (now down to 9 weeks in January), but Melbourne (9 weeks) and Brisbane (9 weeks) also joined Sydney this month. 

Job search figures are highly seasonal, so this will be a trend to watch as 2018 rolls on. 



Follow the smart money "IndyWatch Feed"

Where ultra-high net worth individuals invest their money:


Weekend reads - must see articles of the week "IndyWatch Feed"

See here on how Melbourne's suburban house prices have continued to rise.

While there subscribe for the free newsletter content along with 105,000 others.


Millions of People Taking Statin Drugs Will Continue to Have Far Greater Chance of Harm than Benefit "IndyWatch Feed"

Millions of People Taking Statin Drugs Will Continue to Have Far Greater Chance of Harm than Benefit

By Paul Fassa

Two recent articles published in the UK mainstream hard copy and online newspaper Express revealed theres something wrong with cholesterol-lowering statin drug prescription policies, quoting several doctors who claim statins cause more harm than benefit.

Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist professor at the San Francisco Medical Center, states:

Unfortunately, until all data is available and discussed with patients, millions of people taking these [statin]drugs will continue to have far greater chance of harm than benefit. (Source.)

Dr. Rita Redbergs name might be familiar to our readers, because she appeared in an Australian two-part TV news documentary that has often been featured in several Health Impact News articles. Both parts were connected thematically and produced by Dr. Maryanne Demasi, Ph.D.

And it was Dr. Demasis British Medical Journal (BMJ) article and study review that the Express article was reporting rather favorably with quotes from other doctors supporting her findings. The articles focus was on the controversy it had ignited regarding the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Dr. Demasis Determination to Expose the Harsh Realities of Statin Drugs Was Underestimated


A few years back around 2013/14, Dr. Demasi produced two Catalyst science show productions on the ABC Australia TV network. Its as mainstream as it gets down under.

Part one, Dietary Villains, of the two-part series, The Heart of the Matter, exposes the big fat lie of heart disease, the li...


Tiny Graphene Membrane Creates Supercharged Water Purification In One Simple Step "IndyWatch Feed"

By Kevin Samson

Fresh water supplies continue to be assaulted on multiple fronts. Front page news at the moment is the unfolding disaster in Cape Town, South Africa which could be completely without water by June. According to some, this is as much the result of politics as it is the result of a three-year drought.

At the same time, clearly man-made disasters like the corporate hoarding of fresh water is on the rise. At the heart of this initiative to make water a commodity has been Nestle, whose former CEO clearly stated that water supplies should be privatized and that the right to fresh, clean water is not an essential human right. One look at how this is manifesting in Mexico at the moment should make it clear who gets most severely penalized for this policy.

Moreover, it is estimated that nearly 1/3 of the planets population is directly threatened by unclean water. Finding a solution to this ongoing plague should be of paramount importance; it is for this reason that I have repeatedly focused on novel new ways that we can take back control over our water supply and ensure that it is as clean as possible (see here and here).

A new filtering technique might just hold the largest promise yet for being able to access even large bodies of water across the planet that have become terribly polluted. Australias Syndney Harbour is one such place. Comprising more than 10,000 acres at depths of up to 35 feet, the Harbour is so polluted that scientists saw it as the perfect challenge to test their research.

The system that scientists at CSIRO have created is called Graphair, named after the microscopic graphene film that developers say will stop pollutants completely in a single step, as opposed to the m...


Money not argument is the answer to NRA "IndyWatch Feed"

AFTER the Florida shootings, Australia was again mentioned sporadically as an example of how to do gun control. Buy back the guns and destroy them. Ban a huge range of high-powered guns. And strictly control purchases of weapons and how they are stored. Too easy, you would think. The vast majority of Americans know what is needed. But getting there is far more difficult in the US than in Australia. Nonetheless there is another aspect of Australian political life which could be quite helpful in the US.

Protest rallies, anguished hand-wringing, candle vigils, and even solidly rational argument backed by conclusive evidence simply do not cut any ice with US politicians and the US military-industrial complex.

The response is merely offers of prayers and thoughts which never do anything, as proven by the inevitable next mass shooting.

The trouble is that the military-industrial complex makes the weapons for public (as distinct from military) sale and profits immensely from it. The civilian arms industry in turn gives large amounts of money to the National Rifle Association which adds its own donations to pour an estimated $60 million a year into candidates election campaigns.

You cannot argue with that. You have to match it. We have to face the sad fact that in Australia and more so in the US, money drives politics not good policy, the peoples welfare or the national interest.

Enter an Australian political phenomenon GetUp!

GetUp! has more than a million members. Translated to the US, that would be 15 million members. GetUp! campaigns against large business interests in favour of fairness, the environment, and equity in health and education.

A US GetUp! would almost certainly make gun control a top priority.

A US GetUp! could counter the financial power of the National Rifle Association and instill the fear of democracy into the hearts and minds of US political candidates. Gutsy TV ad campaigns suggesting that Senator Bloggs supports child murder, or that Representative Smith sells himself to the arms industry backed up with the prospect of cash donations from US GetUp! to wean them off the NRA tit is going to be more effective than mere rational or emotional appeal for action.

You have to match the large donations of the few with the small donations of the many.

In Australia 97 per cent of GetUp!s donations are un...


The Weekend Quiz February 24-25, 2018 "IndyWatch Feed"

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. Estimates of cyclical fiscal balances by the IMF and other bodies are typically biased upward.

2. For nations with an external surplus (such as Norway), it is sensible for the government to run fiscal surpluses and accumulate them in a sovereign fund to create more space for non-inflationary spending in the future.

3. We would never observe a state where a nation was running an external deficit (trade and income flows), a fiscal surplus and the private domestic sector was spending less than it was generating.



Brisbane Biz - Bubbles, Budgets, & Betting | An Exclusive Interview "IndyWatch Feed"

Brilliant video with Dan Petrie of DataDigger and Stephen "the Kouk" Koukoulas of Market Economics. 


Where to Find the Big Stock Trades "IndyWatch Feed"

  • Spare a thought for the desperate people of Venezuela
  • Why the good time for Qantas might not last
  • Plus, why a gain is never yours until its in your pocket
 Amidst the happy earnings season here in Australia, we should probably spare a thought for the people of Venezuela right now.

Bloomberg reports that the oil industry the only thing the country has going for it is collapsing from workers too exhausted and weak to do their jobs properly.

Thats because theyre starving. The food supply in the country is minimal and the currency has collapsed from hyperinflation. The regime there has turned the entire country into a failed state.

Its just another tragic example of how a country blessed in natural resources can be reduced to penury under autocratic government.

Poverty is never the natural state of the world. There are only three things we need to create wealth: Land, labour and capital. Only the idiocy of manmade laws and corrupted human nature can turn a country as resource-rich as Venezuela into what it is today

Will China move to save Venezuela?

And yet we hear so little about this. Surely this is a humanitarian crisis? But there no whispers of regime change or help, as far as the powers that be are concerned.

They dont seem to mind interfering everywhere else, so why not here? I have no idea. Presumably, theres no geopolitical significance to Venezuela.

That might say something about the oil industry right now. There was a time when a crumbling energy supply coming out of Venezuela might have caused angst in the world. But the US shale revolution is pouring out so much oil and gas that the US has the luxury of not caring quite so much.

Im not sure how long such a benign state of affairs can last. One concern is that the ongoing tension in the Middle East could cause oil prices to spike. The second is that China and India are going to stay very thirsty for oil in the foreseeable future.

Venezuela with no great love of the US was a handy source of supply here. Lets keep an eye on this to see if Chinese firms or the government do something to stem the chaos happening here.

Its also worth following oil right now because its possible and Im only speculating here that Qantas could be setting up as a great short at some point in the future.

I know, I know. Qantas has just announced a great profit and share buyback. It might ev...

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Thursday, 22 February


Best earnings growth since 2014 (led by NSW & QLD) "IndyWatch Feed"

Pay gap closing

It's been a pedestrian half-decade for salaries, especially if you're a man.

And that continued in 2017, with the average pay for males growing by about +2 per cent for ordinary time earnings. 

An awful lot of energy is directed to blaming immigration for this, but as with many other data releases the figures have generally followed a pattern of being very upbeat before the peak of resources construction, and then far more modest as we've come down the other side. 

That's particularly been the case in the resources states such as Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland where average earnings growth was very strong up until 2012, and then cooled. 

This dynamic is perhaps most evident in full-time male total earnings. 

At the sectoral level, unsurprisingly mining was the weakest performing industry, with earnings essentially flat over the year to November 2017 - or down in real terms - although mining remains the highest paid sector of the economy with an average wage exceeding $134,000. 

The next highest paid roles tend to be in IT, where the average wage is now approaching six figures, and finance & insurance at just over $97,000. 

Pay gap closes

There was some...


Australias Consumer Watchdog Received 1289 Crypto Complaints in 2017 "IndyWatch Feed"

Australis Consumer Watchdog Received 1289 Crypto Complaints in 2017

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed that it received more than 1,200 complaints relating to cryptocurrencies via its Scamwatch portal during 2017. In light of the number of complaints, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has issued a warning to potential investors outlining the risks associated with cryptocurrency investment.

Also Read: Tesla Hit by Hackers Who Used its Systems to Mine Cryptocurrency

Australias Consumer Watchdog Received 1,289 Complaints Relating to Cryptocurrencies Last Year

Australia's Consumer Watchdog Received 1289 Complaints About Crypto Scams in 2017The Australian Broadcasting Co...


The vocational education disaster "IndyWatch Feed"

Update: On the same day this article appeared, Labor has come out with a call for a major inquiry encompassing both unis and TAFEs. Whether or not my past advocacy had anything to do with this, its a welcome outcome.


Why US Sanctions Are So Lethal "IndyWatch Feed"

The anatomy of a Chinese tech-company disaster.


Shuttered Exchange BitFunder Founder Charged With Fraud, Perjury "IndyWatch Feed"

The post Shuttered Exchange BitFunder Founder Charged With Fraud, Perjury appeared first on CCN

The US securities regulator has charged the now-shuttered BitFunder with attempting to hide information about a major hack. Meanwhile, the US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York simultaneously charged BitFunder founder,  37-year old Jon E. Montroll of Texas who also ran digital wallet service WeExchange Australia, with two counts of perjury and obstruction

The post Shuttered Exchange BitFunder Founder Charged With Fraud, Perjury appeared first on CCN


Sydney unemployment rate keeps falling "IndyWatch Feed"

Sydney tightens

Sydney's annual average unemployment rate fell to just 4.58 per cent in January 2018.

The annual average has been lower, in 2008, when the unemployment rate briefly snuck below 4.2 per cent. 

In Adelaide the annual average fell to 6.49 per cent, in Perth it fell to 6.14 per cent, and in Melbourne to 6.1 per cent.

So there have been some improvements. 

However, only Sydney has anything remotely approaching a tight labour market on this evidence. 

The good news for Queensland is that both hiring and participation are picking up.

And it's happening not just in Brisbane, but right across the state.

Cairns and Townsville in particular are also now recording stronger rates of employment growth, after the downturn.

Meanwhile the coastal Queensland locations such as Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have been improving for some time on the back of the lower dollar. 



Why can't Australia break up with coal? "IndyWatch Feed"

Governments all across the world are starting to shift away from coal-powered energy out of environmental and economic concerns. So why isn't Australia? Australia's Blair Palese explores.


Petro Gold Spawned After El Petros $735 Million Sales "IndyWatch Feed"

Venezuelan president Maduro announces countries second commodity backed cryptocurrency Petro Gold the day after El Petros initial private sale raised $735 Million.

Maduro Doubles Down With Petro Gold

Once again President Nicolas Maduro took the podium to announce a government-owned cryptocurrency. This time instead of oil its the Petro Gold which is to be backed by precious metals.

Next week Im going to launch the petro gold, backed by gold, which is even more powerful, that will strengthen the petro, Maduro said in a televised speech. The Petro which launched on Tuesday is reported to have raised $735 Million dollars on its first day of private sales.

Scheduled to be capped at 100 million tokens with an initial sales price of $60 roughly the price of a barrel of oil the government could raise up to $6 billion if the Petro succeeds in selling out. So far 824 million tokens have been made available.

It is not yet clear whether the Petro Gold is to be backed by gold held in reserves or the countries gold resources. In fact, no details about the new currency were given besides that it would launch next week. This sudden announcement doesnt help the already highly criticized Petro and the Governments intentions for creating it.

Problems With The Petro

Widely seen as a poorly thought out solution to boost the floundering Venezuelan economy, where the fiat currency has been in a free fall for several years and inflation rates are as high as 600%, the Petro has been called a stunt and bogus currency by financial experts.

The Petro is really a top-down hierarchically controlled asset, and its much more akin to a new way to tokenize oil. When the first gold ETF appeared, they werent considered gold, but a different way of packaging the commodity. With Petro, we really have a new wrapper around oil.

Chris Burniske of venture capital firm Placeholder told Bloomberg.

Maduro himself now admits that the Petro was created in part as a way to skirt US backed economic sanctions against the country. While the US Treasury Department has warned investors that by buying the Petro they themselves could become subject to the same sanctions as creditors to the government.

The Petro Gold is not the first cryptocurrency backed by gold. The RMG backed by the Royal Mint in Britain was fi...


Unions respond to the publication of the full TPP text "IndyWatch Feed"

22 February, 2018: Yesterday the New Zealand government published the full text of the Comprehensive Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement, which Australia and 10 other countries intend to sign on March 8 in Chile, along with a National Interest Analysis of the deal. As Fairfaxs Peter Martin writes, the Australian government will not release their analysis of the deal, done by the Department that negotiated it,  until after the signing ceremony. The government is still rejecting calls for an independent analysis.

However, NZ Council of Trade Unions (CTU) economist Bill Rosenberg says the New Zealand governments analysis of the deal is deeply flawed. There is no analysis of health or environmental risks posed by the CPTPP, and it assumes that working people will find new employment immediately when their jobs are displaced. Mr Rosenberg says:

Like previous studies, its estimates of gains in GDP are tiny - a one-off gain of between 0.3% and 1% of GDP in 16 years time. Even these small benefits are unlikely to be evenly spread. At the same time, citizens risk losing our ability to use government purchasing and our state-owned enterprises for the public good. We need to retain our ability to drive the economy towards higher wage, higher value industries like the local processing of New Zealand timber and other materials.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions made similar criticisms of the CPTPP. ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly said the deal puts corporate profit ahead of jobs and wages and will allow companies to exploit more temporary migrant workers and allow foreign companies to sue the Australian government over domestic laws. Yesterday AFTINET called for independent studies of the economic and social impacts of the CPTPP, and for a Senate inquiry that can critically assess whether the deal is in the public interest.


What Russia Knows About Gold That You Dont "IndyWatch Feed"

Sometimes, youve got to look past the headlines to see the real story.

Overnight, the gold price fell US$10 per ounce, on the back of the release of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes. In the minutes, the Fed say it expects inflation will continue to creep up. These minutes also confirm a March rate hike in the eyes of the market.

Of course, between now and 21 March when the Fed next meets may be your last chance to get in before the next gold bull market run really starts to run. If Jims analysis is right, investors now have less than thirty days to buy gold at these prices. By the end of the year, we may never again see gold below US$1,400.

This is something Russia knows too.

The real news overnight is that Russias gold reserves are now bigger than Chinas official holdings.

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation bought 20 tonnes of the yellow stuff in January this year, giving the Russians a total of 1,857 tonnes of gold. This puts the former soviet country 15 tonnes ahead of Chinas dubious tally of 1,843 tonnes.

Of course, no one actually believes Chinas gold holdings tally. The middle kingdom mines 450 tonnes of the stuff each year. And none of it leaves the country.

But Russias incredible accumulation of gold cant be ignored.

Under President Vladimir Putins authority, Russias foreign gold stores have soared 70% since 2015.

The three-year gold-buying spree means the country now has 17% of its foreign reserve assets in gold. This far outweighs China, which has only 2% of its foreign reserve assets in gold.

Dont underestimate Russias move here. The country is increasing its gold holdings in a deliberate effort to reduce reliance on the US dollar.

At the same, Russia is setting itself up to take advantage of the next gold bull market. You should too.

And now, its over to Jim.

Kind regards,
Shae Russell

The post What Russia Knows About Gold That You Dont appeared first on Daily Reckoning Australia.


Turkey Will Be Ground Zero in the Next Global Debt Crisis "IndyWatch Feed"

Turkey is a beautiful country with a rich history, including Greek, Roman and Muslim influences, making it one of the most fascinating places on Earth. It is literally a bridge between East and West: The mile-long Bosphorus Bridge, just north of Istanbul, connects Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait.

Turkey has been a magnet for direct foreign investment from abroad and dollar-denominated loans by international banks to local enterprises. This investment enthusiasm is understandable given Turkeys well-educated population of 83 million, and its rank as the 17th-largest economy in the world, with a GDP of just under US$1 trillion.

The flood of bank lending and direct foreign investment has given rise to another flood of hot-money portfolio investors in Turkish stocks, chasing high returns with cheap dollar funding in a variation of the global carry trade. So-called emerging-market (EM) funds, offered by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and others, are stuffed full of Turkish stocks and bonds.

Jim Rickards in Turkey

Your strategist in central Istanbul, Turkey, on the site of the ancient Hippodrome, where chariot races were still held in Late Antiquity. In my many visits there since 1996, I have observed Turkeys shift from a firmly secular society to one dominated by religious and authoritarian rule. As Turkey turns its back on Western society, it still relies on Western institutions to deal with potential debt, currency and reserve crises. Turkeys new alienation from the West may mean that Western help will not be available in a future financial crisis.

But theres a dark side to this seeming success story. Turkeys external US dollar-denominated debt is so large that a combination of rising US dollar interest rates and a slowing global economy could quickly turn Turkey from model EM to the canary in the coal mine of the next great global debt crisis.

The risk of a major debt crisis beginning in Turkey is heightened by the rise of Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdoan as an autocratic strongman in the mould of Argentinas Juan Pern and other populist nationalists who have ruined strong economies.

Begin with a look at the Turkish debt situation. Turkeys debt is huge; one of the highest debt burdens of any EM. Turkey owes US$450 billion to foreign creditors, of which US$276 billion is denominated in hard currency, mostly dollars and euros. The remainder of US$174 billion is denominated in Turkeys local currency, the lira.

Both kinds of debt are problematic. The lira debt is a growing burden because lira interest rates have skyrocketed from 6% to 12%...


Welcome to the homeless working poor a new neoliberal KPI "IndyWatch Feed"

In advanced nations, poverty used to be a thing of old age, once income had stopped due to retirement and savings depleted. Old-aged pension systems were intended as Welfare States emerged to prevent that fall into poverty. The pension systems reduced the incidence of extreme poverty and the full employment era that followed the Second World War, where governments committed to using their fiscal capacities (spending and taxation) to ensure there were sufficient jobs for all, allowed workers to improve incomes and saving. Research in the early 1970s (particularly from the US, where the pension systems were less generous and working conditions less regulated) started to disclose the incidence of the working poor. In more recent times, the concept of the working poor has spread from the US to most advanced nations. In this modern era of renewed real wage repression, rising energy costs and housing costs, workers are not only facing increased risk of poverty but also of homelessness. Welcome to Australia the nation with the second highest median wealth per adult in the world. Yesterday (February 21, 2018), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the Wage Price Index, Australia for the December-quarter 2017. Private sector wages growth was 1.9 per cent in the December-quarter continuing the seven consecutive quarters of record low growth. However, with the annual inflation rate running at 1.9 per cent, real wages growth was static. And with real wages growth lagging badly behind productivity growth, the wage share in national income is now around record low levels. This represents a major rip-off for workers. The flat wages trend is also intensifying the pre-crisis dynamics, which saw private sector credit rather than real wages drive growth in consumption spending. And now, the latest data shows that workers are experiencing increased homeless. It is not just a problem of the working poor now. Welcome to the homeless working poor a new neoliberal KPI.

The rise of the working poor and homeless in Australia

There was an excellent book published in 1973 by Barry Bluestone, William M. Murphy and Mary Stevenson entitled Low Wages and the Working Poor which linked the wage determination system in the US with the rising incidence of poverty.

In other nations, the rise of the working poor would come later.

With the advent of neoliberalism and the bias against activist fiscal policy designed to ensure full employment, governments that had been captured by this infestation, asserted their role was no longer to provide jobs for those who couldnt find them in the market economy, but, rather, they were responsible fo...

Wednesday, 21 February


Queensland high-rise boom unwinds apace "IndyWatch Feed"

Apartment building slowing

Residential building work done for non-houses dropped by some 25 per cent in Queensland in 2017.

And this construction trend will continue in 2018 as the sector continues to rebalance towards equilibrium.

Not quite so many cranes expected in 2018 then, at least in the residential sector! 

As construction slows Brisbane's apartments are gradually filling up, as I looked at in a bit more detail here, but it's taking time for the stock to be absorbed.

The figures for engineering construction have been all over the show across recent quarters with some wild spikes in Western Australia due to the import of LNG platforms.

Looking at the smoother trend figures brings positive news.

Post-mining boom engineering construction is no longer dragging back the economies of Western Australia and Queensland, paving the way for an economic recovery for the resources states. 

Good to see.

At the national level residential building work done fell by about 5 per cent in 2017 as supply and demand look to swing back into balance.

However, this was more than offset by the rebound in engineering co...

IndyWatch Australian Economic News Feed Archiver

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