Pete Wargent blogspot


'Must-read, must-follow, one of the best analysts in Australia' - Stephen Koukoulas, ex-Senior Economics Adviser to Prime Minister Gillard.

'One of Australia's brightest financial minds, must-follow for accurate & in-depth analysis' - David Scutt, Markets & Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald.

'I've been investing 40 years & still learn new concepts from Pete; one of the best commentators...and not just a theorist!' - Michael Yardney, Amazon #1 bestseller.

Monday 28 February 2022

Borrowing time

Borrowing time

This week on the Property Pod, Chris Bates of Wealthful talks borrowing strategy.

Tune in here (or click on the image below).

You can also tune in at Apple, Spotify, and elsewhere.

And, these days, you can tune in at Youtube as well.


Probuild collapse may be the first of many

Probuild heads into adminisitration

I had a chat to Annette and Scutty on ausbiz TV on the floods, the Probuild collapse, and more, on ausbiz TV. 

Tune in here (or click on the image below):

Credit growth calming

Credit growth eases

Credit growth missed expectations slightly, coming in at 0.6 per cent for January, and 7.6 per cent for the year. 

Broad money growth for the month was...well, broadly flat.

Housing credit growth remained solid at 0.6 per cent in January, still being driven largely by owner-occupiers over the past year, although investors are now joining in. 

Housing credit growth was 7.7 per cent over the year, but if you look a bit more closely the rate of change is slowing.

Indeed, the 0.67 per cent growth for the month of January was itself a little below the 0.71 per cent in December. 

In turn, the housing credit impulse suggests that annual price growth in the housing market will continue to fade from here. 

Flatter February

On that point CoreLogic will report Sydney prices being down slightly in January, while Melbourne was essentially flat as more supply comes online. 

Brisbane will still do around 2 per cent price growth for the month, pre-flooding of course, and Adelaide about 1½ per cent price growth.

Brisbane has now outperformed Sydney since the 2019 election, with housing price growth of 43 per cent since May 2019. 

Hopefully there will be some better weather on the way now as the wet stuff heads south.

Thursday 24 February 2022

CapEx misses; Europe in turmoil

Capex fizzer

Private new capital expenditure rebounded only by a tiny 1.1 per cent in the December quarter, to $33.3 billion.

This essentially only reversed the -1.1 per cent decline in investment in Q3, and it also comfortably missed the market median forecast for a 2.5 per cent increase.

CapEx investment plans for next year looked decent enough, though quite a bit can change between now and then, of course.

Ukraine pain

Stocks around many parts of the globe are crashing about -5 per cent lower on horrible Ukraine invasion news, while Russia's Moex index was down by a record -28 per cent as the Russian economy will suffer from economic sanctions. 

The price of Brent crude has, meanwhile, soared to over $100 for the first time in 8 years. 

Bitcoin was down -8 per cent, while the gold price has spiked towards $2,000, which probably says something about which of the two is the genuine safe haven asset. 

Remember when the Fed was going to be forced to hike 50 basis points in March? 

Imminent interest rate hikes appear to be melting away, like the wings of Icarus in the sun...

More grown-up analysis, as always, from James Foster here


Continued good news on the Omicron variant, as ICU cases have dropped to under 150, with only 47 ventilator cases now remaining in Australia. 

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Wages growth...another fizzer

Wages disappointing...again

Quarterly wages growth was once again surprisingly soft in the December quarter at just 0.65 per cent. 

The headline wage price index again missed expectations, rising just 2.3 per cent over the year. 

Wages growth is back up to the weak levels seen pre-COVID. 

Private sector wages growth was awfully weak for the year at just 2.38 per cent.

And public sector wages growth was even softer, at only 2.09 per cent. 

After headline inflation, of course, real wages growth was deeply negative. 

At the state level, only Tasmania showed a decent result, with 3 per cent wages growth over the year, while Queensland recorded a tidy +0.8 per cent for the December quarter. 

Wages growth of just 2.0 per cent in Western Australia suggests that Australia may not be near full unemployment, given an unemployment rate in that state of just 3.7 per cent. 

The wrap

There were some wages pressures in the retail trade sector, and in accommodation and food, but since the borders are open now to temporary visa holders the supply of labour into these sectors will likely now ramp up again. 

Some folks tried to portray 0.65 per cent as strong result - presumably to back up their previous calls for imminent interest rate hikes - but overall, the figures showed a small improvement and modestly broader-based signs of wages growth. 

Lagging, maybe, but far from strong at this stage. 


As always, the king of analysis James Foster elucidates further here


Construction figures saw a wide miss on the expected 2.5 per cent growth for Q4, recording a negative result, while Q3 was also revised back into negative territory.

Probuild is reportedly heading into administration, which will leave thousands of apartments incomplete. 

Construction insolvencies have been artificially low for a couple of years, but two years of disruptions and delays - combined with rising materials costs (and now borrowing costs) - is sending more building and construction firms under.

I noticed earlier that The Ribbon is still unfinished, with no activity in evidence.

Cursed project, it seems - it was taken over from Grocon...who also went bust. 

Monday 21 February 2022

Is investing in property an art or a science?

Property Pod

This week I discuss with Michael Yardney whether investing in property is an art or a science?

Tune in here (or click on the image below):

Get Invested podcast: the year ahead

The year ahead

I joined Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast to discuss the investment outlook for the year ahead.

Tune in here - from around the 27 minute mark (or click on the image below):

Sunday 20 February 2022

Here come the tourists

Borders reopen

The Macquarie Macro Strategy chart via Justin Fabo below suggests that immigration levels spiked back in December, due to the return of international students and working holiday visa holders. 

The December figures were likely skewed higher by a record number of Australian residents returning to the country, having previously been effectively locked out by quarantine rules. 

The actual number of new visitors to Australia did increase, but there's probably a long way for this increase yet to return before things are back to pre-COVID norms.

Rental market pressures

Reserve Bank of Australia research has previously underscored that a large proportion of new migrants to Australia tend to rent their first home, before later transitioning to home ownership. 

International students also comprise a large proportion of new migrants, and tend to be less likely to be in a position to purchase than the average household, thus adding to the pool of rental demand.

Property research group SQM Research reported that rental vacancies dropped quickly from 57,558 to 47,977 in January, representing a sharp drop in the national vacancy rate from 1.6 per cent to just 1.3 per cent (which is well below the 2 per cent seen a year earlier).

This is the lowest national vacancy rate in 16 years.

The national vacancy rate did get lower once before over this side of the Millennium, in 2006-7 as Australia's mining boom years saw the economy dally with full employment. 

Source: SQM Research

Rental vacancies have reportedly continued to fall in February. 

Borders reopen to tourists

Tomorrow the international borders will finally reopen to tourists - except for Western Australia, which will follow suit on March 3 - for the first time in 23 months, meaning that there's a two-year backlog of travellers waiting to get in (minus those dissuaded by vaccination requirements and testing rules). 

14 airlines will be operating flights in and out of Australia effective Monday, so many Australians will be heading overseas too, of course. 

According to Sydney Airport, via the AFR, 35 of 44 airlines that stopped flights will be fully operational by the end of March. 

Rental vacancy rates were already at extremely tight levels across much of the country in January, though not yet in Sydney (16,357 vacancies) and Melbourne (17,112 vacancies), representing vacancy rates for those cities of 2.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively. 

Most new arrivals into Australia tend to head to Sydney and Melbourne, in that order.

Over the past two years the number of temporary visa holders in Australia has crashed by more than ¾ million from a pre-COVID high of 2.4 million in 2019 to a recent low of 1.6 million. 

Melbourne's property market has quite a bit more slack, given vacancy rates only fell from 3.2 per cent to 2.7 per cent in January. 

Vacancy rates in Sydney CBD, on the other hand, are already back below pre-COVID levels, and have been falling quickly.

The current trajectory suggests Sydney may  be heading for a rental property shortage before the end of this financial year, as full employment hoves into view for Australia for the first time since 2008. 


A promising week for serious COVID-19 instances in Australia saw ICU cases drop to 190 (down 33), and ventilator cases drop to 74 (down 14). 

Hospital cases fell by 543 over the course of the week.

Thursday 17 February 2022

Sick note

Hours work plunged 9pc in January

The cities were extremely quiet in January, as many Aussies worked from home or were signed off on sick leave. 

Full-time employment fell 17,000 in January, according to the ABS survey, offset by an increase in part-time jobs.

Employment fell back in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, although on a seasonally adjusted basis there was an increase in Canberra, leading to a fairly flat result overall.

The unemployment rate increased, but only marginally from 4.16 per cent to 4.19 per cent. 

Hours worked plunged 8.8 per cent in the month, to be lower than a year earlier. 

In summary, loads of people were off sick in January, and it was a soft result. 

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Job ads highest since 2008

Jobs ads still rising

Job advertisements declined a little in January in Tasmania, South Australia, and the ACT. 

However there were sharp increases in the four most populous states. 

Total job ads therefore increased 10,900 or 4.4 per cent to 259,000, to be up 54 per cent from a year earlier. 

Source: LMIP

More importantly, the January labour force figures will be out tomorrow.

There's a wide range of forecasts, but after a jump in employment last month forecasts for January are for a flat result...but let's see. 

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Vacancy rates plummet to 16-year low

Vacancies heading to zero

Rental vacancies plunged from 58k to under 48k in January.

The national vacancy rate plummeted from 1.6 per cent to just 1.3 per cent in the month.

This is miles below the 2 per cent seen a year earlier, and the lowest national vacancy rate in 16 years. 

SQM reported that asking rents for capital cities rose 7.5 per cent over the year to January, and expects rents to rise at a double-digit pace shortly (potentially much more). 

Mind you, the cost of getting tradies out and maintenance done for landlords has increased by more like 50 per cent in many cases. 

Vacancies have actually continued to fall in February, according to SQM, notably in Sydney and Melbourne, with Central Business District vacancies now in decline as Aussies return to the office, and new arrivals come into the country. 

In fact, SQM reported that CBD vacancies are already below pre-pandemic levels, and well below pre-pandemic levels in Melbourne's case. 

Only Darwin has vacancies trending higher at this point. 

Rental crisis incoming

As the national borders reopen rental crisis stories seem increasingly inevitable.

It's often been absurdly difficult for landlords to get loans in recent years.

There must be countless examples of people like me who would have quite willingly provided additional rental stock, but have just given up due to the reams of paperwork and frequently pointless hurdles involved.

I have an LVR of about 25 per cent, but have spent the past six months signing stat decs, sworn affidavits, and practically signing away the in-laws just to try and access a tiny line of credit...alas, no dice! 

It's all just becoming way too hard for portfolio investors, as personal responsibility is no longer a thing in the present borrowing environment for investors. 

A few more months of plunging vacancies of this magnitude and we'll be at zero available rental stock. 


The Reserve Bank found in 2017 that immigration from overseas has little impact on the housing turnover rate because most new arrivals - especially international students - are renters initially. 

Michael Bevan: To finish first, you must first finish

Property Pod

This week, former world's best ODI batsman talks cricket, property, and life.

Tune in here (or click on the image below):

You can also tune in at Spotify, Apple, etc.

And indeed, Youtube:

Sunday 13 February 2022

CBDs reinvigorated as fear recedes

Omicron threat recedes

There have been more dramatic 20 to 30 percent declines in hospital, ICU, and ventilator COVID cases this week. 

I've spent a lot of time quietly observing all up and down the east coast over the past month, and it appears to me that mobility has suddenly surged back over the past week. 

A receding fear of the Omicron variant of the virus has almost certainly been a major factor. 

Unlike in previous waves - with over 2.9 million known COVID cases now recorded - almost everybody in Australia has either had the coronavirus, or knows someone who has. 

Thus, the fear of the unknown is no longer, except perhaps in locked-in Western Australia where borders have remained shut, except for sports star exemptions. 

And despite much fearmongering, ICU demand and ventilator cases are now tracking at only a fraction of the modelled estimates for reopening. 

It was from a universally popular move, but in the face of a hostile media Premier Perrotet held his nerve on the removal of restrictions and now people are getting about their business and back to normal. 

The traffic has actually been fairly congested in Sydney for some time, but this was partly a function of folks being reticent to use public transport. 

This weekend, however, it's suddenly becoming obvious that the fear factor is receding, and entertainment venues are now being frequented again. 

We actually got turned away from a full Italian restaurant last might, which is the first time I've been able to say anything like that for a long while, as the pandemic grinds its way tediously into a third year. 

The latest published mobility indexes had already rebounded to well above lockdown levels, but after the loosening of border restrictions in a week's time - and once employers start calling workers back into the office - mobility looks set to return to pre-COVID levels pretty quickly from here. 

Not long now until the CBDs are buzzing again. 

Friday 11 February 2022

6 reasons the housing landscape is shifting

Landscape shift

I discussed on ausbiz TV with Annette Beacher and Scutty here (or click on the image below):

Tuesday 8 February 2022

How to build a great investment portfolio with Stuart Wemyss

Property pod

This week I interviewed the great Stuart Wemyss, to ask how to build an investment portfolio for great results. 

Tune in here (or click on the image below):

You can also catch it on Spotify, Apple podcasts, etc.

And also, at Youtube.

Monday 7 February 2022

Down come the border barriers

Borders to reopen

Well, it's not before time!

Near enough two years after the borders were first closed, finally international tourists and other visa holders will be able to travel to Australia from February 22. 

The Labor government in Western Australia has...well it's still shut, obviously, and businesses are packing their bags and leaving for Sydney, including Wesfarmers and others leading the 'executive exodus'. 

The Federal government has also recently launched an advertising campaign to bring backpackers back to Australia. 

This could see ¼ million or more backpackers and working holiday makers in Australia. 

Arrivals will need to be fully vaccinated. 

Thankfully, hospital numbers for virus cases are in freefall, falling by well over 1,000 over the past week.

The border reopening is likely to have some repercussions for rental markets, which are already tight - in many cases very tight - after several years of extremely tricky borrowing conditions for landlords. 

CoreLogic reported in late January that rents are climbing at the fastest pace in 15 years.