Tag Archives: interest rates

ECB: Stark Warning of Eurozone Debt Crisis

17 Mar

From BusinessWeek:

European Central Bank Executive Board member Juergen Stark said the euro region may face a sovereign debt crisis unless governments reduce budget deficits.

There is “a clear risk that we will enter a third wave,” which is “a sovereign debt crisis in most advanced economies,” Stark told lawmakers in the European Parliament in Brussels today.

In Australia, our government is continuing to increase our budget deficit, by refusing to withdraw its woefully incompetent and wasteful “stimulus” spending.

Even though we had no recession, and RBA Governor Glenn Stevens recently referred to 2008-09 as “the mildest downturn” we have had since WW2.

China Biggest Worry For Markets

17 Mar

Fromt the Wall Street Journal:

Nervousness is growing in the financial markets about China, which might seem odd when there are so many other places to worry about.

There’s still Greece, for example, which is likely to be the focus of this week’s meetings of European finance ministers. There’s Germany, and its trade surplus. And there’s the U.S., the U.K. and all the other places with triple-A-rated debt that may not be rated triple-A for much longer.

So why the focus on China, where shares closed Monday at their lowest in five weeks, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite ending below 3000 at its weakest since Feb. 9? Well, as one bank put it on Monday: “Are we facing a ‘growth miracle’ or will China be the next bubble to burst?

Even the markets are more cautious on China than Australia’s financial powers, the RBA and the Treasury department. They still believe we are headed for 40 years of “unprecedented prosperity” on the back of a new China-fueled mining boom.

RBA Concerned About Greece

16 Mar

And about time too!

From The Australian:

The Reserve Bank lifted the cash rate to 4 per cent in early March in response to two months of data suggesting the economy might be growing at or close to trend.

But board members expressed concern that the fallout from the Greek financial crisis might have implications for the Australian economy, the minutes of the RBA’s March 2 board meeting say.

The minutes show the central bank was concerned about the possibility of contagion, that the Greek problem could spread to other parts of Europe.

“The main risk was the possibility of contagion to other sovereigns and perhaps other markets, primarily in the euro area.

“Members agreed the fiscal problems in Europe, if not resolved satisfactorily, could result in renewed turmoil in markets and fresh weakness in the global economy, which could have implications for Australia.

However, the RBA’s wishful thinking remains strong:

“But while that outcome could not be ruled out, it was not the most likely one.”

I would like to see RBA Governor Glenn Stevens and his cohorts called before the Senate, and forced to actually justify their crystal-ball gazing confidence  by producing real evidence.

They completely failed to predict the GFC.  That EPIC failure cost Australians literally billions in lost retirement savings and investments.

Why should we believe the RBA’s judgement is correct now?

Especially when there are ever-growing contrary views rolling in daily, from all around the world.  Many from those who did predict the GFC!

And they do not share the RBA’s judgement.

The Net Debt Picture

12 Mar

Here’s a picture that speaks volumes.

From the government’s 2009-10 Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook, Appendix D, Table D4, I’ve made the following chart tracking official ‘net debt’ since 1982 (click on chart to enlarge) –

Australian Government - Net Debt

I’ve marked the first full budget year for each successive government, from Labor’s Bob Hawke through to Labor’s Kevin Rudd.

See that steep fall in government net debt on the chart?  The one that took the nation from $96.2bn in net debt, down down down to negative $44.82bn in net debt?

Yes. That was a Coalition government.

See the rocket-like launch back UP to unprecedented levels of net debt?  Yes, that’s the Rudd Government’s panicked, totally unnecessary spending binge for you. The one they’ve been lying about.

With much more debt still to come.

After all, they borrowed another $1.6bn just this week. See the AOFM website, and click on the links under ‘Recent Tender Results”.

And next week, they’re planning to borrow another $2.1bn.

The massive, multi-billion dollar cockups in every single “stimulus” spending program, will only add to their… OUR… huge and unpayable debts.

Australia Only OECD Nation With Rising Debt

11 Mar

From Marketwatch:

Australia’s seemingly bulletproof economy could soon face fallout from high debt levels and purportedly misguided policies designed to pump up asset prices, according to an outspoken skeptic of the nation’s housing boom.

Economist Steve Keen of the University of Western Sydney, who claims* to have accurately foreseen the global financial crisis, said he’s been dismayed by what he sees as a growing nationwide housing bubble stoked by government efforts to forestall economic pain.

Keen points to a first-time homebuyer subsidy program, various other stimulus programs, and a 4-percentage-point reduction in interest rates — policies introduced in the wake of the 2008 crash and which he termed “The Boost” — as having helped fueled a new housing boom and a 6% rise in mortgage debt last year.

“The Boost has … given Australia a dubious distinction when compared to the rest of the OECD. Yes, we are the only country that avoided a technical recession; but we are also the only country where debt levels are rising once more compared to GDP, rather than falling” …

*Proof of Professor Keen’s “claim” can be independently verified in this research paper, which references a handful of economists who did predict the GFC in advance.


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 mania that has been driven directly by insane – and in my personal opinion, immoral – 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.


Rain For Henry, Stevens’ Parade

5 Mar

From Business Spectator:

Today’s commentary is all about lessons learned and not learned in the GFC.

ABARE has rained on the commodity bulls’ parade with forecasts of falling commodity prices in the medium term, and a falling dollar from next year. This is no surprise to this column, which has argued consistently that the prices of the last cycle will not be repeated because that cycle’s global building boom – from Shanghai to Dubai – was a once-in-a-lifetime event, characterised in the worst cases by massive empty buildings. Mine supply has also now caught up.

The commentary then goes on to critique Michael Stutchbury’s recent article regarding the Australian housing bubble:

Heavens to Betsy. This column will simply observe that house prices reached unprecedented multiples of income in the last cycle and are now threatening to go higher still. And even in Stutchbury’s own terms the boom is based upon easy money – this time fiscal – the First Home Buyers’ Grant (FHBG). We might also note that it was coupled with the lowest cost of mortgages in fifty years. Let’s call a spade a spade. The FHBG was, in the long run, a calamitous policy. It has re-inflated the great Australian housing bubble, underpinned it with moral hazard and badly compromised monetary options… A historic opportunity to de-risk the Australian economy was missed.

If we learned anything form the GFC it is not to trust financial advice, and John Durie of The Australian analyses where new regulation to protect small investors is headed. “Myriad studies have revealed that 50 per cent of Australian adults don’t understand what 50 per cent means.

Aussie Banks Not So Safe

4 Mar

From Money Morning:

We dropped the line yesterday about the banks having $13 trillion of off-balance sheet business. We’ve mentioned this number several times over the last year, but if you’re a new reader to Money Morning, here’s a link to the Reserve Bank of Australia spreadsheet that contains the awful truth.

To be precise, it currently runs to $13,058,814,195,842.70.

Just to put that in perspective, the banks have a total of $2.59 trillion of on-balance sheet assets. We’re sure the banks and the RBA will claim that all the off-balance sheet business is completely offset, so that losses are contained.

Personally, we don’t think you should believe a word of it. The number one risk with the off-balance sheet business is counterparty risk. As long as each counterparty can keep the ponzi scheme going then sure, everything will be tickety-boo.

But as we all know, that can’t happen. We’ve seen counterparties collapse before (Lehman, Bear Sterns, etc…) and they’ll collapse or need bailing out again.

There’s only so long that banks can keep the ponzi going. They’ve scraped through by the skin of their teeth thanks to an unprecedented bail-out by the taxpayer.

You see, $13 trillion is $13 trillion. It’s the big unspoken risk that the banks have created for themselves.

You can see the growth in off balance sheet business for yourself here:

$13 Trillion - AU Banks' Off Balance Sheet "assets"

$13 Trillion Off Balance Sheet Business = RISK

So let me make one thing clear. When you hear all the talk about banks deleveraging and de-risking, don’t believe a word of it. As you can see from the chart above, they’re in as deep as they’ve ever been.

The issue of counterparty risk is precisely why the Greek debt crisis is a threat to Australia – despite what Ken Henry and Glenn Stevens would have us believe.

Stevens: ‘Risk of Serious Contraction’ Passed

2 Mar

The man who did not see trouble all around in 2008, continually raising interest rates right into the teeth of the GFC, has raised rates again today:

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the “risk of serious economic contraction” had passed, and an economy that was growing faster than expected would warrant higher interest rates for the rest of the year.

Stevens clearly believes that the Australian economy is magically immune from the sovereign debt crises in the Eurozone, UK, USA, and Japan, and the massive speculative real estate bubble in China.

However, the Rudd Labor government no longer has a $20+ Billion budget buffer inherited from the previous government. Instead, they have put Australia into unprecedented debt that we can never pay back.

Stevens, allegedly a devout Baptist, had best start praying fervently that all the ongoing financial crises in the rest of the world somehow resolve themselves.  Else he will again be shown as a fool… at a terrible price to the Australian public.

Stevens – Australia’s Most Useless?

26 Feb

Illustration - John Shakespeare

In recent days the mainstream media have made much of Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens’ response to comments made by Barnaby Joyce concerning Australia’s rising debt levels:

‘‘There has never been an event of sovereign default by Australia,’’ Mr Stevens told a parliamentary hearing in Canberra. ‘‘I very much doubt there ever will be.’’

Now, don’t you feel reassured? After all, if the esteemed Governor of the RBA is not worried, then why should you be?

Think again. This is the same “expert” who utterly failed to foresee any warning signs of the impending Global Financial Crisis. Indeed, Stevens kept raising interest rates right into the teeth of the GFC, prompting this scathing response from the Daily Telegraph:

The nation’s most powerful economic figure has committed a double betrayal of working families – urging big banks to ignore the RBA’s official interest rate and saying taxes could be increased.

For the second time in a fortnight, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens has gone public to encourage the biggest lenders to go beyond the current official interest rate and slug mortgagees at a higher rate.

His controversial comments effectively render him useless – because it is a key part of his job as Reserve Bank governor to use official interest rates as a guide for the major banks as to what they should charge on mortgages.

“I can’t tell you at what point rates will come down. I can’t promise they won’t rise. I can’t tell you that, mainly because I don’t know,” Mr Stevens said yesterday.

Note the date of those comments by Stevens. April 4, 2008. His last interest rate rise prior to the GFC, was on March 4, 2008, taking the official cash rate to 7.25%.

Less than 2 weeks after Stevens had again raised Australia’s interest rates, US banking giant Bear Stearns collapsed.

Less than 6 months later, all hell broke loose with the collapse of Lehman Brothers… the biggest corporate collapse in US history.

From September 2008, Stevens had to chainsaw 400 basis points (4%) off the cash rate, in a frantic bid to save the Australian economy from imploding.

Remember that, for next time you hear the media again twisting Stevens words into an alleged putdown of Barnaby Joyce’s concerns.

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