Tag Archives: mortgage debt

Europe’s Banks Brace For UK Debt Crisis

14 Mar

From the UK’s Telegraph:

UniCredit has alerted investors in a client note that Britain is at serious risk of a bond market and sterling debacle and faces even more intractable budget woes than Greece.

“I am becoming convinced that Great Britain is the next country that is going to be pummelled by investors,” said Kornelius Purps, Unicredit’s fixed income director and a leading analyst in Germany.

Mr Purps said the UK had been cushioned at first by low debt levels but the pace of deterioration has been so extreme that the country can no longer count on market tolerance.

Sound familiar?

Our economy too, was once cushioned by low debt levels. Not any more.

In my view, the only really fundamental difference between the UK’s dire economic situation and Australia’s, is this: as happens so often, with so much in Australia, we are simply running a couple of years behind on the major international trend.

The UK property bubble has already burst. Ours hasn’t … yet.  Only because the Government had cash in the bank to prop up our property bubble – and thus, our banking sector – by doubling the First Home Owners Boost.

When another wave of the GFC rolls in, we no longer have a “low debt” position to cushion the blow.

The only question seems to be, from which direction will the next wave come?  From Europe?  From the UK? From the USA? Or, from China?

Worrier Joyce Gains Traction

13 Mar

A must read article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Why Our Foreign Debt Is A Taboo Subject

It’s become deeply unfashionable to talk about Australia’s foreign debt. Neither the government nor the opposition wants to mention it and the same goes for most economists. In the Reserve Bank’s 60-page quarterly review of the economy it doesn’t crack a mention.

Predictably, however, the subject holds no terror for Barnaby Joyce. As best I can make out, his celebrated mention of ”our net debt gross public and private” was a reference to our foreign debt.

What’s that you say? You thought the pollies had done little else but spar about deficits and debt? Sorry, different debt. They’ve been arguing about the public debt – the amount the federal government owes (mainly to Australians).

On the latest estimates (which are probably too high), the federal budget’s return to deficit is projected to cause the net public debt to peak at $153 billion in June 2014, before falling back.

But as Crocodile Dundee might say, that’s not a debt, this is a debt: according to figures we got from the Bureau of Statistics last week, in December Australia’s net foreign debt reached $648 billion.

And if you enjoy a good worry, as Joyce clearly does, why not quote the gross foreign debt? It stands at a cool $1219 billion.

How on earth did we get to owe all that money? Just who owes it? What’s the difference between gross and net? And why does no one but Bushwhacked Barnaby think there’s much to get excited about?

Perhaps it’s because Barnaby is the only politician in Australia who truly cares about protecting Australians.  And not just his own taxpayer-funded lurks and perks.

There is one serious quibble I have with Ross Gittins’ column. He writes:

Since we’ve run a deficit on the current account almost every year since the year dot, and since we also have to borrow to cover the interest we pay on earlier debt, our total debt to foreigners stands at $1219 billion.

Fortunately, it’s not quite that bad. That’s the gross amount we owe. But while some Australians were borrowing from foreigners, others (mainly our super funds) were lending money to foreigners. As at December, foreigners owed us $571 billion.

So that’s why the net amount we owe to foreigners is $648 billion and that’s the more meaningful figure to focus on.

I disagree completely. With so much evidence emerging almost daily about the growing debt crises in countries all over the world – just see the dozens of articles referenced and linked in this blog –  why should we sit back comfortably and count our chickens before they’re hatched?

If foreigners owe us $571 billion, what makes us think that they can pay us back? What good reason is there to believe we can count on that $571 billion owed back to us?

I applaud Mr Gittins’ story overall. At least he’s bringing attention to the great taboo subject of foreign debt. But I fear that, like so many mainstream economists, he fails to see these simple, logical flaws in the “popular” wisdom.

The exact same flawed argument is made by the government, Treasury, the RBA, and all their many cheerleaders in the mainstream media, when it comes to Gross vs Net public debt.  And, gross vs net Interest on Debt.  Again, they always argue that it is only the Net figure that matters. Because they believe that we can count on the amounts owed back to us as a sure thing.

Morons. Blinded by “conventional wisdom”, and too much time staring into the crystal balls of economic “theory”. Even Gittins manages to concede as much, in a butt-covering final paragraph:

Of course, the conventional wisdom among economists could be wrong. It has been known.

Indeed.

Not one “conventional” economist predicted the GFC.  Many – like the Rudd Labor team of economic illiterates – were still shrieking about “the inflation genie” in the middle of 2008.  Even though the GFC tsunami had already started to wash over the USA back in the middle of 2007!

The “conventional wisdom” is BS.

Barnaby is right.

Labor’s Debt Legacy

12 Mar

Media Release – Senator Barnaby Joyce, 12 March 2010

Senator Barnaby Joyce says that reports in The Australian today confirm what the Coalition has been saying for months on debt and interest rates. Simply put, the Rudd Government’s excessive and profligate spending is putting upward pressure on interest rates.

It is clear that the RBA have resorted to the fastest increases in interest rates among advanced economies in response to the effects of this spending. So while other countries enjoy modest rises, hard working Australians will be paying the price for Labor’s bad management.

There is still a major portion of the $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan to spend and while the Government has almost $128 billion of debt on issue (almost $16,000 per household), this is less than half its projected peak of $270 billion in 2014-15.

Gross debt has risen from $126.183 billion two weeks ago to $127.982 billion today. In two weeks the debt has risen by $1.8 billion. Easy to throw these figures about, but remember, just this increase is enough to seal 9000 kilometres of 6 metre wide road in country Queensland. This would take us from Sydney to Perth and back again and still have money left over.

It is highly unlikely there will be many left of the current Labor members by the time this debt is repaid. In fact quite a few will have passed away, but the debt will still be with us.

More Information- Jenny Swan 0746 251500

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.

UPDATE:

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.

Thanks!

Home Loans Slump Most In A Decade

10 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The number of home loans plummeted by 7.9 per cent in January, the biggest fall since June 2000, after the phasing out of last year’s first-home buyers’ grant boost and interest rate rises sapped demand.

January’s result follows a revised 5.1 per cent drop in December, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported, citing seasonally adjusted figures. Economists had been predicting a 2 per cent increase in January.

As usual, over the “long run” we again see that the predictions of mainstream economic “experts” are wrong.

This result underlines what contrarian economists such as Professor Steve Keen have been warning for several years.  That the government and Reserve Bank of Australia have, together, fuelled a massive bubble in property prices.  Rudd Labor’s doubling of the First Home Owners Boost, and the RBA’s slashing of interest rates in late 2008, have encouraged tens of thousands of borrowers to take on ever greater levels of debt. In the process, these buyers armed with cash handouts from the government and tempted by record-low interest rates, have bidded up the already record-high prices of Australian real estate.

Now that the FHOB has been withdrawn by a debt-laden government, and interest rates are beginning to rise, immediately we see a dramatic fall in demand for the loans that support Australia’s unprecedented housing bubble.

15x More Debt

9 Mar

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Australians now owe financial institutions more than $1 trillion in housing mortgages, almost 15 times as much as 20 years ago, new Reserve Bank figures show.

The Reserve revealed that people paying off their own homes now owe banks and other lenders $763 billion – almost 12 times more than the $65 billion owed in January 1990, when figures were first compiled.

Rental investors have increased their mortgage debt even more spectacularly. In January 1990, landlords owed banks $10.5 billion, but by January this year, the figure had swollen more than 30 times over, to $324 billion.

Household disposable income also rose in that period, but it only trebled. In January 1990, home mortgages ate up just 28 per cent of our disposable income. By January 2000, that had ballooned to 66 per cent, and by January this year, it doubled again to 134 per cent.

Even in the past year, despite the global financial crisis, the debt we owe on home mortgages climbed relentlessly, up $83.5 billion to $1087 billion.

Households’ willingness to take on greater debt powered much of Australia’s economic growth from 1990-2010 but with our households now as indebted as any in the Western world, economists say that will not be repeated.

This is a perfect illustration of how the Reserve Bank of Australia has indebted the nation by its inflationary policies, that have made our currency lose 968.1% of its buying power.

By creating ever more money (as debt, or ‘credit’ loaned to home buyers and consumers), the prices for everything are silently, relentlessly pushed ever higher.

But our wages never rise enough to match. So, we are driven ever more deeply into debt.

Now that Rudd Labor has so rapidly indebted the Federal government as well, we are in huge financial danger.  There is simply no ‘capacity’ for households, or the government, to keep on spending and support the economy when another crisis strikes.

Thanks to too much debt, the only way forward is… even more debt. And we all know what happens when you reach a point where your debt is so great that you cannot pay it back.

Deeper In Debt

25 Feb

Associate Professor Steve Keen has been warning about Australia’s rising debt burden for some years:

Australians have an unsustainable debt addiction, which will be hard to kick, and painful to recover from. A new report by CPD fellow Steve Keen has found that in just 18 months time we may be spending as much of the national income on interest payments as we were in 1990 – when interest rates were at 17 per cent.

That was in 2007.

Things are far worse now, since the Labor Government has so dramatically increased public debt, while encouraging even greater levels of private debt thanks to its recently wound down “First Home Buyers Boost”.

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