Australian Economy

The simplest way to think about the Aussie economy is that it is driven by dirt and debt. Our commodity exports (led by iron ore) provide the income, which allows us to borrow and speculate on housing. Of course, low interest rates have assisted Australia in achieving the highest household debt levels in the world. In turn, interest rates are so low because of the commodities bear market that occurred from around 2011 to late 2015.

Australian Economy in recent times

As commodity prices fell, so did Australia’s national income. The Reserve Bank of Australia responded to this price fall by lowering interest rates from 4.75% in November 2011 to 1.5% in August 2016. This had the effect of setting off a housing construction and price boom. Rising house prices (via the wealth effect) encouraged consumers to keep spending. Consumption represents nearly two-thirds of economic growth, so this spending kept the economy healthy through the commodity price downturn.

Aussie Economic Risks

The biggest risk for the Aussie economy isn’t a house price collapse, as everyone fears. That will be a symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself. The biggest risk is a sharp downturn in China’s economy. This will send iron ore prices and other commodity prices plunging back down again. A prolonged downturn in commodity prices will reduce Australia’s income growth. Given Australia’s high debt levels, falling incomes would spook our foreign creditors. This could lead to a plunging Aussie dollar, as foreigners hold back on extending loans to Australia.

So how bad is the Australian Economy?

Australia owes more than $1 trillion (net) to foreign lenders. So if they consider us a higher-risk destination to invest due to a weaker Chinese economy and plunging commodity prices, that could lead to a sharp slowdown and recession. Falling house prices would follow. This is a worst case scenario, but not out of the question if China encounters its own debt crisis.

What the Mainstream Isn’t Telling You…

In investment, there is a tendency to think that the future is linear, that things won’t change. A predisposition to keep things comfortably the same and to project what’s already happened into the future.

It’s Been a Good Month for Property

If history is to repeat, property prices are likely to rise further in value, into a peak next decade. Study a little history and you’ll see how the boom/bust cycle repeats. It must repeat, because we never get to the underlying cause of the boom/bust cycle.

Listen, RBA, to Money Morning Readers

We’re a little over a week away from another rate decision. Will they or won’t they cut rates? if the RBA continues to look at unemployment and inflation as leading indicators for the economy, we could see far lower rates than 1.5%. All they need to do is listen to Money Morning readers to see this won’t work anyway.

Dear Reader, What Does Your Spending Look Like?

We need our government to spend more money it doesn’t have on infrastructure. It should create new jobs, and the income from that needs to be spent in the economy, spurring on businesses to borrow more at record low interest rates to increase production.

Play the Game and You Might Get Rich

I’m beginning to think Australia is just one giant game of Monopoly…Pass GO every fortnight or month, depending upon your employer, and receive $200.Try to buy up every Australian property in sight…even the cheap disgusting ones.Speculate on which side of the board you’d like to control...

Trickle-Up Economics

You’d think two incomes would make life easier. But it doesn’t. It just means house prices can be bid up more. And that people can borrow more for real estate. Perhaps two incomes have even made things harder.
Money Morning Australia