Scaremongering about a housing correction

Despite various opinion pieces recently, the New Zealand property market is not heading for a crash. Given the sheer inertia of demand pressures in Auckland, we also think chances of a substantial correction are slim. This article lays out an answer to the question asked by Slade Robertson’s opinion piece in the NZ Herald this morning: are we heading for a crash or correction?

Larger firms increase their share of residential building activity

Consolidation in New Zealand’s residential construction industry has resumed since 2011 as building activity has recovered from the Global Financial Crisis. In 2017, the 100 largest firms made up almost 40% of consents, although that figure slipped to 37% in the March 2018 year. We had expected this trend of consolidation to take place, but it contrasts with a declining market share for the top 100 firms in Australia. Does this apparent fragmentation of the market in Australia foreshadow a similar change for New Zealand?

RBNZ’s risky assumption clouds OCR outlook

The August Monetary Policy Statement was the most influential yet under new Governor Adrian Orr, even though there was no change to the official cash rate (OCR). Mr Orr pushed out expectations for a rates hike until 2020, sending the New Zealand dollar sharply lower.

But it was the Governor’s assertion that rates could and would move lower, if weak indicators persist, that is both his biggest warning and most questionable stance.

Another construction firm bites the dust

The placement of Ebert Construction in receivership continues the trail of woe in the non-residential construction industry. Businesses in the industry seem to be facing ongoing profitability problems, as reflected by the difficulties experienced by Fletcher Building and Hawkins (among others) over the last couple of years. Yet these problems are occurring despite total construction activity growing by an average of 5.6%pa since mid-2011.

Trump’s tariffs threaten to start a trade war

Last month, US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, alongside tariffs on over US$34b of Chinese imports. Taking into account tariffs imposed earlier this year, about US$90b of Chinese imports to the US are now covered, with threats that all US$505b of Chinese imports could yet be hit.

What drives aggregates freight?

Aggregates – various forms of crushed rock – are used for building and road construction. These materials accounted for 11% of total freight volumes (tonnes) in 2012/13 but tend to travel short distances. Nevertheless, with growing demand for construction materials, especially in Auckland, aggregates road freight is likely to track upwards over the years ahead.

Rising fuel prices threaten to squeeze economic growth

Motorists have been incensed this week, with the price of 91 octane petrol heading over $2.30/l in some parts of the country. Increased fuel prices aren’t yet at the highest (real) levels we’ve ever seen – but they’re close. Based on the unrest in the Middle East, fuel prices might remain elevated for some time. This will hurt more than just the classic Sunday drive, with airfares, freight costs, and eventually goods prices also needing to increase to cover higher fuel bills.