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The Economy


'Not just chocolate biscuits': Deep corporate cost cutting tells tale of waning confidence

MARK MULLIGAN 4:21pm Falling real incomes in Australia and global growth concerns are undermining corporate and consumer confidence and put at risk the government’s fiscal objectives, a conference heard on Monday.


Western Australia's doing it tough, says Kerry Stokes

Mining needs to be more efficient, says Kerry Stokes

Julie-anne Sprague 6:23pm Billionaire Perth-based businessman Kerry Stokes says economic conditions in his home state are the worst in nearly 25 years.


Why some wages growth might be a good thing

Some growth in wages might help bring workers to the services sectors that need them, says the RBA's Christoper Kent.

MICHAEL PASCOE 1:29pm Unfortunately economics isn’t as simple as the average minister for employment might make out.

State of the States: NSW topples WA as strongest economy

The glow of the mining boom continues to fade.

12:36pm NSW has knocked off Western Australia as the country's strongest economy, as the glow of the mining investment boom continues to fade.

Interest rates

Deutsche sees further rate cut next year

Soft employment could prompt the central bank to cut interest rates further next year, according to Deutsche Bank.

MARK MULLIGAN 1:23pm The unemployment rate in Australia may not peak until the end of next year or early 2016, forcing the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut the cash rate from the current 2.5 per cent, according to Deutsche Bank.


Australian business calendar October 20 - 24

6:42am What's on in the world of business this week.


Cheers and jeers for RBA's Guy Debelle

Have the assistant governor's comments killed his chances of making it to the top job?

SALLY ROSE Across talkback radio, editorial columns, twitter, and stock forums this week, market watchers have been a abuzz with their views on Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor Guy Debelle's warning that financial markets could be headed for a "violent" adjustment.

Monetary policy

Rupert Murdoch lambasts central bank stimulus

Low interest rates and governments printing money push up the price of assets, rewarding the wealthy owners of assets, Mr Murdoch told his high-powered audience.

James Chessell Rupert Murdoch used an after-dinner speech to the world’s most powerful finance ministers to argue against the widespread quantitative easing adopted by central banks, arguing the policy was increasing the gap between rich and poor.


One in six homes bought by foreigners

Local investors, rather than foreign buyers, are crowding buyers out the market for established properties, NAB reports.

Foreign buyers are flocking to buy Australian property, snapping up one out of every six new homes.


Consumers stay pessimistic for eighth-straight month

Consumers remain pessimistic, but their sentiment isn't getting any worse.

Stephen Cauchi Consumer confidence has risen marginally, from 94.0 in September to 94.8 in October.


Abertis chief lashes ACCC for allowing $7b Queensland Motorways-Transurban deal

Jenny Wiggins The chief executive of Abertis, one of the world’s largest tollroad managers, has questioned the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision to allow Transurban to buy Queensland Motorways in a $7 billion deal earlier this year due to the Australian company’s dominance of the local market.

Senate inquiry demands answers from low-tax companies

Senate committee chairman Sam Dastyari has vowed to investigate corporate tax avoidance.

HEATH ASTON Forty of Australia's biggest companies will be asked to explain their tax affairs to a Senate committee investigating corporate tax avoidance.

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Property makes Australians the world’s richest, says Credit Suisse

'Remarkable figures': Property is at the heart of Australia's wealth, Credit Suisse reports.

PATRICK COMMINS Thanks to their houses, Australians are the richest people in the world, according to the investment bank Credit Suisse.

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Business to help design curriculum in school trial

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Prime Minister Tony Abbott address the media during a joint press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 14 October 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Matthew Knott, Liam Mannix US-style industry schools will come to Australia as part of an Abbott government trial that will see big businesses contribute to the school curriculum.


Australian business confidence falls for second month as construction orders drop

A fall in forward construction orders has helped fuel a nosedive in business confidence.

Australian business confidence has taken a dive in the face of tough trading conditions and dwindling profits.


Citigroup lauds Joe Hockey for G20's narrow focus

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has done well to keep the G20 meeting in Brisbane focused on a few topics, Citigroup says.

VESNA POLJAK Citigroup Australia boss Stephen Roberts believes Australia’s presidency of the Group of 20 will go down as one of the most successful stewardships of the global forum because of Treasurer Joe Hockey’s ability to keep discussions focused to a few important issues.


Sydney house prices push families north to Queensland

Kerr at work in her Surry Hills office.

BELLINDA KONTOMINAS As Sydney house prices skyrocket and traffic congestion worsens, some enterprising workers are moving north to seek the lifestyle they want in Queensland while continuing their careers in NSW.

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Labour, energy costs – not dollar – blamed for manufacturing collapse

Wage growth has been outstripping productivity, to the detriment of the manufacturing sector.

JARED LYNCH Don't blame a high Australian dollar for the demise of the country's manufacturing sector.

Snowy role elevated as market concentration rises

Flow-on effect: Snowy Hydro has become the fourth-largest energy retailer in Australia.

BRIAN ROBINS The competition watchdog, the ACCC, has thrown its weight behind the privatisation of Snowy Hydro.


Property investors switching to sell mode

More investors are thinking of selling properties they own.

Scott Parker Following a year of red-hot property gains investors may have finally had enough, with a new survey suggesting sentiment toward investing in residential property has turned from buying to selling.


WA Premier Colin Barnett lashes BHP, Rio over iron ore price squeeze

WA Premier Colin Barnett has fired a shot across the bows of mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

Julie-anne Sprague WA Premier Colin Barnett has delivered a stinging rebuke to BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, telling the mining giants to "remember who your landlord is".


Investor housing splurge 'can't continue forever': RBA

The Reserve Bank of Australia's head of financial stability Dr Luci Ellis

Low interest rates are doing what they are meant to do - boost housing prices, Reserve Bank official Luci Ellis says.


What is 'fair value' for the Australian dollar?

Experts have differing opinions on where 'fair value' for the Australian dollar sits.

MARK MULLIGAN At what point is the Australian dollar giving “fair value” and how do we arrive at that magic number?

Eco data

Joe Hockey eyes new fee to fix dodgy ABS jobs data

Blaming Labor for the jobs data fiasco, Treasurer Joe Hockey flagged at the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting in Washington the Abbott government is looking to charge fees for ABS data.

John Kehoe Treasurer Joe Hockey has signalled that market participants may be charged a fee to access data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as he blamed Labor's budget cuts for dodgy job figures produced by the agency


Unemployment rate hits 6.1% in September

The ABS has been under fire over the accuracy of its employment data.

MARK MULLIGAN Australia's jobless rate hit 6.1 per cent in September, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which has come under fire this week for the veracity of its data.


ABS employment data revised: Australians have been fed a 'statistical furphy'

Analysts had been sceptical of the record surge in jobs reported by the ABS for August.

GARETH HUTCHENS Australians have been fed a “statistical furphy” about the unemployment rate.


ABS backtracks on jobs data after August surge

Australia's official statistician is making changes to employment figures for the past three months that, on the face of it, would show far fewer jobs created in August than first reported.

Companies hit hardest by the Australian dollar slump

Clothing retailer Kathmandu is second on the list.

Stephen Cauchi Kathmandu, Graincorp and Leighton Holdings are among the companies most likely to be adversely affected by the falling Australian dollar, according to research conducted by Credit Suisse.

RBA keeps rate on hold, doesn't mention house prices

Gareth Hutchens dinkus Dinkus

GARETH HUTCHENS The Reserve Bank has been talking about surging house prices for months but Glenn Stevens barely mentioned them.

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Two statements define RBA's status quo

The value of the Australian dollar is till too high, the Reserve Bank of Australia believes.

MALCOLM MAIDEN The Australian dollar fell on the Reserve Bank's announcement that its cash rate is still on hold at 2.5 per cent because two crucial pieces of language were essentially unchanged.


RBA leaves rates on hold

RBA governor Glenn Stevens.

MARK MULLIGAN The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday left the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 per cent, where it has been since last August.


Treasurer Joe Hockey says falling commodity prices will hurt budget

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed that falling commodity prices will hit the federal budget.

Falling commodity prices will hurt Australian government efforts to rein in its budget deficit, spurring possible new savings measures, Treasurer Joe Hockey said.


Houses, apartments push construction to nine-year high

On the rise: residential construction is tipped to strengthen for the remainder of this year.

Activity in Australia's construction industry is expanding at its fastest pace in nine years, with house building leading the way.

Sydney struggling to keep up as technology challenges financial services industry


MATT WADE Sydney has the potential to follow London and New York in becoming a hub for the burgeoning financial services technology sector. But it also warns the increasing overlap between financial services and new technologies could disrupt many big local employers.


RBA's warnings take some heat out of property market, say real estate agents

Real estate agents say RBA commentary on the economy is having an effect on buyers.

Mark Mulligan and Stephen Cauchi Attempts by the Reserve Bank of Australia to talk down what it sees as overpriced housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne have had some impact, according to estate agents.


Jobs ads rise for fourth month in a row

Job advertisements are growing at their fastest pace in five years.

Job advertisement numbers rose for a fourth consecutive month, an encouraging sign that the labour market is improving after unemployment hit a 12 year high in July.


The $227m search for Australia's Mark Zuckerberg

ROSE POWELL Is there is a Mark Zuckerberg hiding somewhere in Australia? A young upstart with a game-changing idea that could become a multibillion dollar technology business like Facebook? Accel Partners has spent almost $US200 million ($227 million) trying to find out.

Real estate agent warns on macro-prudential policy as banks say no change in consumer behaviour yet

Home buyers face new restrictions as RBA signals intent to take action against galloping housing markets.

Michael Koziol and Alana Schetzer One of the nation's largest real estate agents has warned the Reserve Bank of Australia against putting limits on home loans.


New home sales rebound in August

ales picked up 3.3 per cent in August, following a decline in July, according to HIA figures.

New home sales have rebounded, suggesting construction will remain strong into 2015.


Services sector activity falls for 7th month

Activity in the services sector has fallen for the seventh consecutive month, but there are signs that it might be getting ready for a recovery.


Apartments lead Australia's new home sales rebound in August

Sales of apartments jumped more than 19 per cent in August.

Sales of new homes in Australia rose 3.3 per cent in August, partially reversing a fall in the previous month to remain at a historically high level, an industry survey showed on Friday.

RBA may consider more forward-looking housing-loan conditions

Assistant RBA governor Malcolm Edey (right) with the RBA's Head of Financial Stability Luci Ellis at Parliament House addressing a committee on Thursday.

James Eyers and Gareth Hutchens ANZ chief executive Mike Smith says home buyers must heed warnings that property prices can fall and is unperturbed about the prospect of central bank intervention to curb lending, saying such action would only be taken for a "good reason".


Business leaders to face parliamentary inquiry on tax avoidance


Heath Aston and Georgia Wilkins The heads of Australia's biggest companies and foreign multinationals, including Apple, Google and coal miner Glencore, are expected to be hauled in front of a parliamentary inquiry into tax avoidance.

Trade deficit narrows in August

The ABS said the total value of goods and services exports was down $413 million, or 2 per cent, to $26.4 billion, while the value of imports fell by $701 million, or 3 per cent, to $27.2 billion.

MARK MULLIGAN Australia's trade deficit continued to narrow in August, as the value of exports fell less than those of imports.


RBA eyes limits on housing investment, but coy on details at Senate hearing

The Reserve Bank of Australia's head of financial stability Dr Luci Ellis, and  assistant governor, financial system Dr Malcolm Edey appear before the Economics References Committee, at Parliament House in Canberra.

Gareth Hutchens and AAP New regulations to curb some of the investor froth in the housing market look set to be introduced before the end of the year.


Building approvals rose in August

Over the 12 months to August, building approvals were up 14.5 per cent.

Approvals for the construction of new homes rose 3.0 per cent across Australia in August, official figures show.


Bubble-busting: 'macroprudential policies' for home loans explained


MISA HAN It's a phrase you're likely to hear a lot of in the next little while, because "macroprudential tools" are back on the economic agenda. But what does that actually mean?

Canberra retail sales slump amid public service cuts


EMMA KELLY ACT retailers experienced the second-largest slump in trade in August as public service job cuts continue to pull back spending.

Domestic tourism to benefit from sliding Australian dollar

Alana Schetzer, Scott Parker and Lisa Visentin The plummeting Australian dollar may be causing woes for intrepid Australians travelling abroad, but for the domestic tourism industry it is good news.


Shoppers stay home in August as retail sales fall flat

Shoppers in Sydney's Pitt Street Mall.

MARK MULLIGAN Shoppers stayed at home in August according to Australian Bureau of Statistics retail data released on Wednesday that showed turnover in the sector rose a paltry 0.1 per cent in the month, falling well short of market expectations.

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