HENRY LAWSON’S BIRTHDAY

FACES IN THE STREET

They lie, the men who tell us, for reasons of their own,
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My windowsill is level with the faces in the street
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet
While I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped with marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street
Drifting on, drifting on,
To escape the restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beat of hurried feet
Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.







THE FUTURE OF FINANCE

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

Most credit is used to finance escalating land prices, that is, the private capitalisation of the public’s rent revenue – so that’s our greatest worry.

Then comes debt money – literally created by a banker pressing the ‘enter’ key.

Even if government-issued money were to replace the banking dystopia, the deadweight pathologies of taxation and land price would still generate recessions.

But debt-free money, welded onto a Georgist economics, would present a formidable bastion against debt and wage slavery, finally freeing the 99% from the rent-seekers.

History tells us the revolutions happening, and needing to happen, around the world are all doomed to fail without such an economic system underpinning them.

So, just for a break from my straight Georgism, watch Jem Bendell expose how the banking system has run amok.







[USA, UK,] ICELAND, IRELAND, PORTUGAL, GREECE, SPAIN, CYPRUS ….

Quick!  Where’s the next European diversion?

Can you see how it’s all unravelling?  There’s a new script under construction here: non-continental European nations didn’t have their very own real estate bubbles …. [er, unless it was somewhere in the distant past?]

Although the USA and UK remain in dire financial straits—and remember Australia’s mortgage debt is worse than them all—we’re transfixed as a diversion by the daily procession of events in Europe, instead of immediately putting comprehensive taxation reform into place to regenerate the economy.

Julia Gillard says we’re doing that, but raising income tax thresholds and the watered down MRRT doesn’t cut it.

The Henry Tax Review provided an imperfect but good template, but the Grattan Institute wants to backslide from such sweeping tax reform, believing getting women and oldies out to work–oh, and extending the GST–will fix things for us.

Meanwhile, let’s have a meeting in Brisbane to tell ourselves how lucky we Australians really are! It’ll save us from undertaking essential reform.

Let’s all stop being pessimistic, or else Europe will sink us.  We’re absolutely blameless.

Australia is different, because the mining boom is going to pull us through.  It’s just a matter of confidence (until the Labor government can get out of here).

Yep, the script says everything’s fine here.  Pity about Europe.  That’s the problem all right.

You can bet when Australia’s property market eventually turns extremely toxic, it’ll still be continental Europe wot done it to us, gov – regardless of what party is in power.

Tragic!






AUSTRALIA HAS GOT TALENT

I toddled along at 6:00 pm tonight to the Grattan Institute meeting at the State Library of Victoria.

George Megalogenis from THE AUSTRALIAN did a pretty good job questioning Grattan’s CEO John Daley about the Institute’s new report, Game-changers: Economic reform Priorities for Australia, and Daley covered a multiplicity of topics in the hour allocated for his response.

Megalogenis opened with surprise that industrial relations rated so lowly on Daley’s priorities. They then proceeded up a list of  items to which the report gave greater weight.

These included increasing workforce participation of women and older people, so Australia may grow its GDP.

I was a little disappointed when John Daley suggested we needn’t be best at anything in particular, as long as we sought to adopt world best practice in many areas.

But we do already lead the world in having assessed an accurate land value on each property in Australia, John.  ABS Catalogue 5204(061) shows this accumulates to $3.785 trillion, the figure representing the private capitalisation of our surface land rents.  Our best economic minds should be investigating the potential of this land rent to replace damaging taxation, in order to increase our productivity by removing the leadening impost of taxation’s deadweight, particularly that of the the GST.

In looking at workable tax reform, the Grattan Institute’s priority was removal of the GST exemptions for health education and fresh food which accounts for some 40% of spending. There’s little doubt in my mind that had Ken Henry’s “Australia’s Future Tax System” been allowed to canvass the GST, it would have actually moved the opposite way, to roll it back.

Grattan’s secondary but substantial game-changing recommendation, that the states abolish stamp duties and replace them with a reformed land tax (as also suggested by The Henry Tax Review), didn’t rate a mention in the dialogue.

So, I began to frame a question in my mind.

My hand went up, but only three or four questions were taken before time ran out on us.

The beauty of a blog is that I can get my question out here:

“George, perhaps industrial relations didn’t loom large on John’s radar because the fight between labour and capital is largely a manufactured one , distracting us all from the influence of the almost invisible third party of which to some extent many of us are members, namely the rent-seeking class, who steal vast sums from both labour and capital?

Had the Institute’s recommendation for greater land rent capture via the state governments been in place already, is it not arguable that there would be less rent available to be capitalised into the massive land price component in their mortgages to which many people in tonight’s audience have been shackled?”

I’m sure the question would have struck a chord with many of the mortgage tyros in tonight’s audience of 250 to 300.  Australian household debt is preposterous.

Even though it sees a place for state land tax reform, Grattan’s half-heartedness on the point shows it hasn’t discovered the enormous quantum of publicly-generated land rent within the economy.






BROADACRE LAND PRICES TO FALL HARD

Prosper Australia Press Release:

Broadacre Land Prices To Fall Hard

13 June 2012

Victoria Planning Minister Matthew Guy has made big land price falls on Melbourne’s outskirts a certainty with his extension of the metropolitan boundary by around 7000 hectares.

“The gaping chasm between developer supply and buyer demand has never been wider.” Prosper Australia Campaign Manager David Collyer said today. “Minister Guy has just added to the chaos.

“This new supply will help drive down the market price of finished residential lots by a forecast 30 per cent over the next two years.

“The value of undeveloped land zoned residential will fall much further. Landbankers and their financiers are looking at very big losses. Many face bankruptcy as their leveraging works in reverse.

Finished lot sales are down 42 per cent from 12630 in the year ending March 2011 to 7340 lots in the year ending March 2012. Meanwhile, property researchers Oliver Hume says outer Melbourne already faces a land supply glut, with a record high of up to 200,000 lots to be ready for development in 2013/2014.

“That difference is too wide, too stark, to be closed in an orderly manner.

In normal times, Minister Guy would have just gifted landowners a $420 million windfall as landbankers typically gain $60,000 a hectare at the instant of rezoning, according to Urbis research.

“This landowner wealth-extraction process is as old as cities, and handsomely aided by Australia’s very bad taxation system that advantages capital gains over wage earnings and business profits.

While some owners benefiting from the rezoning are individuals on small acreages, most go to landbanking corporations who correctly foresaw government boundary changes and methodically bought up ahead of it.

“Anyone considering buying a new home on Melbourne’s outskirts is advised to stand aside ahead of these utterly predictable falls,” Collyer cautioned. “Those taking our advice a year ago have already saved an average $58,000.

“We urge homemakers to wait, save a giant deposit on the price difference between renting and buying, and take advantage of future lower prices.

“Don’t Buy Now!”

Media contact: David Collyer 0413 248 193

About Prosper: Prosper Australia is a tax reform lobby group and think tank that is now 120 years old. It seeks to move the base of government revenues from taxing individuals and enterprise to capturing the economic rents of the natural endowment, notably through Land Value Tax and Mining Tax.







FAULTY TOWERS

In 1999, at the outset of the greatest real estate bubble in world history, Andrew Lawrence developed his amusingly interesting ‘Skyscraper Index’. It put the proposition that the construction of the world’s tallest building presages economic collapse.

Lawrence’s index is a more superficial treatment of the case British journalist/economist Fred Harrison developed for an 18 year peak in land values, building cycles and economic recessions in his 1983 study “The Power in the Land: Unemployment, the Profits Crisis and the Land Speculator”.

Harrison was acknowledged to be the first economist to have forecast the current global financial collapse (GFC), pinpointing it as early as 1997.

I’ve also touched upon how cityscapes provide insights into property-directed booms and busts.

Just as the Burj Dubai was the harbinger of the GFC, the skyscrapers in course of construction on the skylines of China and India do undoubtedly herald the financial disintegration of the world’s two most populous nations.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A recessionary crisis is not a necessary outcome from a period of boom and prosperity.

The economists of China and India are no less remiss than those in the west for failing to understand the deep implications of Ricardo’s Law and the theory of real estate valuation for taxation and land management policy.

Financial collapse will only be understood in terms of this failure.






Whoa! The NSW Treasurer shoulda made a left toin at Albuquerque!


New South Wales Treasurer, Mike Baird has brought down an $824 million deficit state budget which tries to do the impossible, that is, bring a properly dead property bubble back into existence.

The $7000 First Home Owners’ Grant is being replaced by a $15,000 state grant in order to entrap increasingly suspicious new builders back into the collapsing residential market.

Good grief! It won’t work, of course, but what can you expect from a former banker?

As usual, it seems people are secondary to the primary aim of Barry O’Farrell’s Liberal government, namely re-inflating house prices for real estate agents and banks.