So much creative destruction to document, so little time.
Much will be revealed this week in the Aussie market, although a lot will probably remain obscure too. Producer price data for the September quarter comes out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Inflation anyone? Maybe not in wages. But certainly in raw materials (energy).
And speaking of inflation, the Housing Industry Association will report new homes sales data for September later this week too. What do you reckon it will show? Our prediction: how prices in Australia are outrageous and getting more so with each passing month, as the banks double down on home lending.
You may even see a move in the Aussie gold price this week. It could come if the U.S. dollar pulls itself together for a bit of a rally, as we’re expecting. But the other reason Aussie gold may go up is a small item on the front pages of today’s Australian Financial Review. “Big Banks gear up to lend again,” reports the AFR. Uh oh.
No one’s been too terribly worried about consumer price inflation lately, mostly because it’s been masked – until recently – by cheaper oil prices. Of course the biggest factor affecting consumer price inflation is the growth in bank credit. The RBA reports on that later this week. But bank lending is the main engine for new money creation in the economy…and new money creation is the main engine for inflation.
“The Big Four banks are keen to lend more aggressively to large businesses as the economy recovers and competition for assets intensifies, in a development that is likely to drive down corporate borrowing costs,” Katja Buhrer writes. “The major banks are seeking to take advantage of surplus capital and improving corporate growth prospects.”
Hang on! Surplus capital? Just last week we were under the impression that Aussie banks were having to import capital from foreign lenders in order to fuel the housing bubble. Now there’s surplus capital? And now the banks are eager to loan it out and build up the asset side of the balance sheet again?
So much for deleveraging in the financial economy! This sounds like re-leveraging. It also sounds like exactly the sort of thing – a fresh new wave of bank lending into the real economy – that could trigger much larger inflation. This is the sort of thing the RBA is trying to prevent by raising rates. But if banks start expanding the asset to capital ratio again, watch out! You could see higher Aussie interest rates AND a higher Aussie gold price.
“West Africa beckons as Aussies go for gold,” reports Barry Fitzgerald in today’s Brisbane Times. This answers a basic investment question: which Aussie gold producers benefit most from a rising gold price and a strong Aussie dollar? ASX-listed firms with greenfield West African gold assets generally have their costs in U.S. dollars. That’s a big advantage over domestic gold producers.
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