Tony Alexander

Economic Commentaries

Visiting Singapore in March – & Some Holiday Comments

Thursday January 31st 2013

I have screeds of leave to use up which was accrued during the global financial crisis. That means that I’ll not be doing as many talks around the country for the next 3 – 4 years as in the past as I will be hopping overseas more. In that vein I shall be in Singapore and available to chat to anyone interested in catching up with what is happening back in New Zealand between March 11 and 15. So if you’d like to catch-up or even gather some folk together for a talk email me.

This week we have seen the Reserve Bank confirm that the cash rate will stay at 2.5% but note that with some things improving overseas and the housing market rising, they are keeping an eye on the drivers of inflation. The NZ dollar rose 0.5 cents on those comments and in the FX section we discuss why the NZD is firm and probably will rise above US 90 cents this year.

In the Housing section we look at the idea of minimum loan to value ratios and why the Reserve Bank won’t introduce them – or if they do they will be small.

But first, some comments from my family holiday at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast – written before tropical cyclone Oswald paid an unwelcome visit.

I love it here. The beach is close, there is shopping if you want it, restaurants if you eat out, nightclubs if that is your thing, and transport very handy by bus, train, or even the airport just down the road if you’re prepared to pay the extra compared with flying in and out via Brisbane. We always go through Brisbane because of the cost, frequency of flights, and I quite like the hour and a half train trip from the airport terminal down to Nerang or Robina. A light rail system is being installed ahead of the Commonwealth Games set for 2018 so it will soon be even easier to move around.

There is clearly a glut of property over here courtesy of a number of large upmarket apartment buildings being finished within close time of each other (Oracle, Hilton) and the general weakness in Australia’s housing market for a number of years now. If you are in the market for an apartment then while they are not cheap they are better priced than last year with the Hilton in the middle of Surfers Paradise for instance cutting some prices over 30%. You can even pick up a whole floor in the Oracle now for only $3.7mn compared with over $6mn before. We’ll probably just take the one.

This visit we did not go to any theme parks. I’m sure the kids enjoy the rides but frankly they don’t go on enough, myself and my wife do not go on any at all, if it is a hot day you end up crushed by the heat driven down into you then back up again from the concrete, and for a family of seven the cost is just huge.

The highlight of the trip was as always swimming at the beach in beautiful waves and each day getting on the sand was the priority. There is always the risk of being stung by jellyfish but this time around there were only a small number of the small blue ones washed up on the beach. Instead there were tens of thousands of beautiful large blue ones which can cause an irritation and itch but not outright wasp-like sting as the small ones do.

It was fascinating on one of the afternoons having a great time body surfing yet over a 20 minute period from first spotting them in rising waves as the tide was coming in watching the big blue jellyfish slowly advance toward the shore. As soon as they reached the sand bar those of us furthest out were on and we headed in everyone else got out of the water as well. At that point it became a fantastic community gawping and laughing session as people dared each other to advance in the shallow water and get as close as they could to the small number of blue blobs with thick finger tentacles which made it into the shallows. I guess the same goading would not have taken place had we exited the water because of a shark.