Tag Archives: interest rates

BIS: Global Economy “Vastly Worse” Than In GFC

29 Jun

The latest report from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) – the central bank to the central banks – warns that the global financial system is in a “vastly worse” position than 3 years ago.

From the Associated Press:

An organization bringing together the world’s major central banks warned Monday that the global economy risks a replay of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, with massive public debt in Europe and the United States replacing the private debt that fueled the credit crunch two years ago.

“A shock of virtually any size risks a replay of the events we saw in late 2008 and early 2009,” the Basel, Switzerland-based organization said in its 206-page annual report.

In a stark warning to governments to clean up their finances, the central bankers noted that “macroeconomic policy is in a vastly worse position than it was three years ago, with little capacity to combat a new crisis.”

The report recommended winding down stimulus packages, raising interest rates in the long term and forcing through reforms of the financial system to prevent sudden shocks from causing market-wide collapse as they did two years ago.

Joyce: Gillard Set To Outspend Rudd

25 Jun

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 25 June, 2010:

Rudd borrows $95 million a day, Julia set to break record

Senator Barnaby Joyce today said that the new Labor Government has a lot of work to do to get this country back on track.

“The new appointee of the faceless factional bosses, Prime Minster Gillard, has already stated that she wants to get the Government “back on track”, and it certainly is a long way off-track at the moment” said Senator Barnaby Joyce, Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Infrastructure and Water today.

When this Government came to power Australia’s gross debt was $59 billion. It is now $147 billion. This Government has spent $88 billion in 935 days. This is a new record for Australian Prime Ministers.

“This Government has been an unmitigated disaster for our country, and even the Labor party now agrees. They have been racking up debt on the national credit card at $95 million a day.

“Every day of the Rudd Government, that money could have built almost 500 km of sealed country roads or repaired and refurbished over 100 bridges in regional Australia. Instead, thanks to Julia Gillard and her team we have overpriced trinkets at the back of school yards. .

“If the new PM really wants to get this great country back on track, she needs to stop this reckless and wasteful spending. The budget that the Deputy Prime Minister handed down less than two months ago forecast borrowing of $150 million a day for the next financial year. Gillard is already on track to smash Rudd’s record and things look like getting worse before they get better.”

“Australia can’t afford another term of pandemonium from the Labor party.”

More Information – Matthew Canavan 0458 709 433

Credit Contraction Heralds Recession

5 May

Does a contraction in the growth of Broad Money Supply say that recession is looming?  Australia’s most recent history responds with a resounding ‘Yes’.

Take a look at the following chart, showing the 12 month percentage change in Broad Money Supply. Note in particular the time frame of Australia’s last recession – Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have” – back in the early 1990’s. See how Broad Money Supply growth peaked in June/July 1989, before falling sharply and eventually turning negative in Nov ’91 – Mar ’92  (click image to enlarge):

Now, consider the dates of the most recent peak (and fall), coinciding with the onset of the Global Financial Crisis.  Broad Money Supply growth peaked again in December 2007 – coincident with the peak in the Australian (and global) stock markets:


Broad Money Supply in Australia has been falling ever since December 2007.

According to John Williams of ShadowStats (commenting on the US economy) –

Money supply and credit are now generally contracting. We’re going to see an intensified downturn in the near future. I specialize in looking at leading indicators that have very successful track records in terms of predicting economic or financial turns. One such indicator is the broad money supply. Whenever the broad money supply–adjusted for inflation–has turned negative year over year, the economy has gone into recession, or if it already was in a recession, the downturn intensified. It’s happened four times before now, in modern reporting. You saw it in the terrible downturn of ‘73 to ‘75, the early ’80s and again in the early ’90s.

Another Week, Another $1.8Bn In Debt

3 May

The Rudd borrowed-money spendathon continues.

Already $138.5bn in the hole, this week alone the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) reports that another $1.8bn in Commonwealth securities and Treasury notes will be auctioned off, to raise money for yet more wasteful spending.

Meanwhile, the interest rates that the government must offer to pay to attract buyers for our sovereign bonds continues to steadily rise.

From The Australian:

The government is facing a battle to keep costs under its self-imposed 2 per cent growth cap, with blowouts in some programs and higher interest payments adding to the deficit.

House Prices Tipped To Implode

3 May

While Barnaby may not have spoken about private debt, it is arguably the great threat to Australia’s economy.  The first to suffer from excessive debt burdens are the thousands of overextended First Home Buyers.

From The Australian:

Australia is in the midst of an unsustainable housing bubble that could burst at any time, warns the man who predicted the global credit bust of 2007.

Edward Chancellor, of US investment bank GMO, says the Australian economy is yet to emerge from the global financial crisis, despite the widespread belief it has escaped the worst of it ahead of the rest of the world.

Mr Chancellor, whose Crunch Time for Credit? was published in 2005, estimates Australian house prices are more than 50 per cent above their fair value – a once in 40-year event. “If house prices were to revert to their historic long-term average (ratio of average price to average income) they would fall quite considerably,” he told The Australian.

He described Australia’s banking system as a “cartel” and said luck rather than skill had allowed the Australian economy to fare better in the global financial crisis than other developed economies.

“My view is Australia had a private sector credit boom just like the US and the UK and it had a real estate boom,” he said.

“Those are the facts and you can’t paper over them.

“In this environment, house prices rose last year and that seems to me to actually have exacerbated the problem.

“The problem is the bubble and that hasn’t gone away.”

A key area of concern for Mr Chancellor was first-home buyers. As interest rates rose, the ratio of their mortgage repayments to their income would rise to very high levels, he said.

“It’s the rising interest rates, particularly with real estate bubbles, that tend to generate the collapse,” he said.

Another potential trigger was China, particularly if the demand for iron ore, coal and liquefied natural gas were to collapse.

“We would see the Chinese demand for Australian commodities as being potentially vulnerable,” Mr Chancellor said.

UPDATE:

The latest housing data says that our housing bubble – fuelled by years of easy credit, the First Home Owners Grant, and propped up during the GFC by Rudd Labor’s doubling of the FHOG – is now running out of control.

From The Australian:

Australia’s established house prices soared 20 per cent in the 12 months to March, deepening fears that a house-price bubble would emerge, and at the same time clearing the decks for a further rise in interest rates tomorrow.

The annual rise in house prices was the fastest ever recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics data series, which began in mid-2002. A rise of 4.8 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2009 was the second-biggest quarterly increase.

“This is a shocker,” said Rob Henderson, head of Australian economics at National Australia Bank. He added that the Reserve Bank of Australia now needed to get more aggressive, and acknowledge the need for a restrictive policy stance.

An Incredible Experience

28 Apr

Well, the KeenWalk is over. And what an incredible experience it was! I can honestly say that I have never before had the pleasure of meeting so many truly wonderful, warm-hearted, intelligent, fascinating people in one place and time.

You can find some of my thoughts about the journey – and the reasons and purpose behind it – on the KeenWalk website, along with those of other fellow travellers.

And now, after a couple days to catch up on essentials, it’s back to the “business” of debt. So much of importance has happened in world markets while I’ve been away – Goldman Sachs, Greece, the IMF, Rudd Labor’s backflip on Foreign Investment rules for property purchases – one hardly knows where to begin!

Aussie Banks To Cut Lending, High Risk

11 Apr

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Banks could be forced to curb sales of mortgages after a feeding frenzy on housing over the past 18 months has seen their exposure to the property market hit record levels.

Last month, BHP Billiton’s outgoing chairman and former head of the National Australia Bank, Don Argus, likened the big banks to ”giant building societies”, accusing them of neglecting business lending to chase the mortgage market.

Of the big banks, the Commonwealth has the most concentrated exposure to the property market – 65 per cent of its lending book is tied up in mortgages. For Westpac and St George combined it is 62 per cent.

ANZ and NAB, which traditionally have a bigger exposure to business lending, have pumped up their mortgage exposure – it accounts for more than 50 per cent of their Australian loans books.

Could Australia experience a property crash, just like those in the USA, UK, Ireland, Spain … in fact, like most of the Western world?

Professor Steve Keen, the only Australian economist to forecast the Global Financial Crisis, believes our property bubble must burst too. It is just a matter of time.

Thanks to the Rudd Government’s doubling of the First Home Owners Boost, tens of thousands of (mostly) younger Australians were suckered into huge mortgages when interest rates were at their lowest.  Now, with household debt levels at an all-time high, the experience of so many other nations says that our bubble will burst too.

“If you do not manage debt, debt manages you”.

Barnaby is right.

Waking Up To Sovereign Debt

25 Mar

From Business Spectator:

The current Greek debt crisis is likely to be only the first of a series of disruptions this year, as global financial markets inevitably shift their attention to the sovereign debt problems of advanced economies.

These problems were magnified by the global financial crisis. Faced with a collapse in consumer spending, and the risk of widespread bank failures, governments opened their cheque books while central banks printed trillions of dollars.

This had the effect of stabilising the financial system, but we now have to deal with consequences of these actions, and particularly with the deterioration in the balance sheets of most advanced economies.

The sovereign debt problem is not confined to the so-called PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain). Markets are also unnerved by the massive build-up of government debt in the United Kingdom and Japan. And that’s without mentioning the huge budgetary problems facing debt-laden US states, such as California.

There are various doomsday scenarios as to how this situation will ultimately play out.

The first is that countries will start off by heading in the direction that Greece is currently taking. That is, governments will attempt to repair their balance sheets by slashing their spending, and pushing up tax rates.

But the worry is that such budgetary measures will prove counter-productive. The countries that follow this path will end up with their economies plunging into recession, and with an outbreak of social unrest. And as their economies shrink, their tax revenues will dry up, which means that they won’t be able to pay the interest bills on their massive debt.

Eventually the situation will become untenable, and central banks will be forced to respond to the situation by printing more and more money in order to create enough inflation to erode the value of the debt.

Under this scenario, massive central bank money printing means ending up with hyperinflation, along the lines of the Weimar Republic, or, more recently, Zimbabwe. In which case the price of gold explodes, with some predicting it could reach $5,000 an ounce. Prices for other commodities also soar, and stock prices are also likely to remain high, as it is assumed that central banks will always keep interest rates below the rate of inflation.

The alternative fear is that the world ends up looking a lot more like Japan than Zimbabwe, and the main struggle is against deflation.

Under this scenario, the determination of consumers to reduce their debt levels overwhelms government efforts to stimulate the economy. What’s more, the deleveraging process causes demand to collapse, and this puts pressure on labour costs. Households respond to this further deterioration in their earnings by tightening their belts even further, resulting in an ongoing deflationary cycle.

One of the main arguments of this camp is that even though central banks continue to print huge amounts of money, it won’t lead to inflation because the banks are not lending the money. Instead, total credit in the economy will contract as consumers, and businesses, try to repay their existing debts, rather than taking out new loans.

According to this view, the price of gold and other commodities will collapse. The drop in demand will also put pressure on the profit margins of businesses, and this will push global sharemarkets lower, even though interest rates will be kept close to zero.

Of course, it’s likely that neither of these two extreme views will play out in their entirety. But we are likely to see markets oscillate between these two opposing fears as worries about sovereign debt continue to climb this year.

Got to love that blind optimism in the final paragraph.

It’s interesting to observe how the power of denial encourages an otherwise rational and sensible commentator to set aside all the evidence of where things are clearly headed, simply because the end of this road looks calamitous –

"She'll Be Right, Mate"

Household Finances Deteriorate

20 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Australian economy is set to grow further in 2010, but household financial conditions are deteriorating to the extent the nation could experience a W shaped economic recovery, a report shows.

Melbourne Institute bulletin of economic trends shows the domestic economy is set to grow by 0.8 per cent in the March quarter and by 0.6 per cent in the June, September and December quarters.

But the report’s household financial conditions index fell 16.6 per cent to 28.8 index points in the March quarter of 2010.

It was the first fall in the index after four consecutive quarters of improvement.

More than half of the 14.4 per cent households who consider themselves to be financially stressed, are employed while employed people with a household income of over $80,000 are the most financially stressed out of all income groups.

The report said part of the deterioration in financial conditions was due to the increased need to service household debt, in particular mortgage debt.

This report indirectly highlights the very real danger of Australia’s unprecedented level of private debt. And in particular, mortgage debt.

Economist Steve Keen, who predicted the GFC in 2005, is Australia’s leading proponent of the argument warning against high private debt levels, and against government policies which have dangerously inflated Australia’s private debt, such as the First Home Owers Boost.

Visit Professor Keen’s ‘Debtwatch‘ website to learn more.

Special Note:

On April 15th through 23rd, I will be joining Professor Keen in his 230km “Keenwalk” from Parliament House to Mount Kosciuszko, in protest against Australia’s property (and debt) mania that has been driven directly by Federal Government and RBA policies.

Please consider joining us, for the whole trek or even just for an afternoon section of the walk.

If you’d care to assist a genuinely worthy cause, then please consider sponsoring Professor Keen, or indeed myself. Funds raised will support the wonderful charity Swags For Homeless.

Thanks!

Barnaby Fights Gouging Banks

18 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Kevin Rudd is at odds with experts over his claim that new laws give government regulators the power to stop big banks from ”gouging” mortgage payers through excessively high interest rates, consumer advocates say.

Asked about a recent Reserve Bank report suggesting the banks have been profiteering with recent interest rate rises, Mr Rudd said: ”The Reserve Bank is right. The banks have been gouging. That’s the bottom line here.”

But the laws, still before the Senate, are about protecting borrowers from unfair loan contracts, not from unjustified increases in interest rates, according to a Choice spokesman, Christopher Zinn.

The Opposition Finance spokesman, Senator Barnaby Joyce, also said the new consumer laws had no relevance to rates and suggested that if Mr Rudd was truly concerned about borrowers being charged too much he would give the competition watchdog the power to solve the problem.

”The Prime Minister appears to be saying the banking market is over-concentrated and the big banks are exploiting that market power to put their rates up. If that’s what he thinks, then he should give the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission the power to step in and fix it … this is a job for the ACCC: it’s got nothing to do with the consumer credit laws,” Senator Joyce said.

Once again, we see Barnaby Joyce front and centre, fighting to defend the little guy.

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