A 60 second update on the economy

Here’s a 60 second update, straight from the July Chart Pack from the RBA…

Household saving ratio remains high at around 10%.


Retail trade growth has been strong over the past year, however, may now be softening, partly as a result of budget cuts.


Consumer sentiment also took a dive post-Budget. Likely to be temporary, and appeared to be rebounding in the last week.


On to the housing market, and reports of the death of building approvals have been much exaggerated.

Month-to-month the figures will always gyrate quite wildly, but next month’s figures will show a strong rebound. Rolling annualised building approvals are now close to all-time highs, a shade below the 1994 peak, which was driven by a huge drop in the official cash rate and rises in nominal dwelling prices.


Probably the most interesting chart of the lot this month for the household sector is the one below, which shows just how cheap housing has become to service in the low-interest rate environment.

Amazing that people can write entire books on the subject of the housing market which conveniently overlook the role of interest rates where it doesn’t quite fit the narrative.

Household debt levels have been flat since 2005, while the percentage of disposable income required to service interest paid has plummeted from well above 13pc to a figure with an ‘8 handle’.


Housing prices are rising in Sydney, but have been fairly lackluster over a period of some years in Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and regionally. Perth had a 10pc surge in 2013, but looks set to be flat in 2014.


Unsurprisingly, given the low interest rate environment, housing loan approvals are as high as we have seen, suggesting more gains ahead for the stronger capital city markets as summer rolls around again.


On the favoured RBA measures, average household wealth has recovered to above $600,000, but sits a little below the 2007 peak.


Next time around, I’ll look at the banking indicators, and whether Australia should be complacent about the presently very low rate of impaired housing loans, which sits at approximately 0.6%.


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Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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