Huge US trade deficit unchanged; US investment growth sags; US home sales flat; Mexico cuts rate; China targets profit-hiding; ASIC's rules under fire; UST 10yr yield at 1.69%; oil unchanged and gold up; NZ$1 = 63 USc; TWI-5 = 68.6

Huge US trade deficit unchanged; US investment growth sags; US home sales flat; Mexico cuts rate; China targets profit-hiding; ASIC's rules under fire; UST 10yr yield at 1.69%; oil unchanged and gold up; NZ$1 = 63 USc; TWI-5 = 68.6

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Here's our summary of key events overnight that affect New Zealand, with news that after 15 months of trade war, the 'easy-win' is as elusive as ever.

The US merchandise trade deficit was -US72.2 bln in August, up slightly from July but down slightly from a year ago. Exports fell on a year-on-year basis, but imports fell more. The big mover was imports of industrial supplies which fell -16% year-on-year. Overall, the trade war doesn't seem to be fixing this deficit.

The final US Q2 GDP data released overnight didn't change the earlier reported +2.0% rise, but it did throw some light on the downturn in business spending which has been blamed on the 15-month trade war with China. The soft investment and sluggish profit results raise doubts about future jobs growth and therefore the American consumers’ ability to continue driving the economy.

Pending home sales in August rose +1.6% in August over July, and are now +2.5% higher that the same month a year ago. But the gain was less than markets were expecting and the trade association now thinks 2019 will come in less than +1% over 2018. Flagging new home construction is holding them back, they say.

The next Fed region district to report factory activity is Kansas City, and their survey was soft in September. Tariffs were cited as a key reason.

In Mexico, their central bank cut its benchmark policy rate by -25 bps to 7.75%, the second successive cut. It comes as their inflation rate cools, and their economic growth starts to waiver.

In China, their banking regulator is accusing banks of "hiding profits" by maintaining excess provisions. It said if it finds provisioning greater than 300% of non-performing loan balances, it will force those banks to distribute that excess as a dividend to shareholders.

In Australia, the real estate industry is backing their Government in an effort to roll-back ASIC's prescriptive restrictions on assessing borrower's financials which they say is disqualifying house buyers unnecessarily.

The UST 10yr yield has slipped today to 1.69%, down -3 bps from this time yesterday. Their 2-10 curve is still positive at +4 bps. Their negative 1-5 curve is narrower at -21 bps. Their negative 3m-10yr curve is much narrower at -12 bps. The Aussie Govt 10yr is down -1 bp to 0.96%. The China Govt 10yr is at 3.15% and up +1 bp. The NZ Govt 10 yr has firmed to 1.15%, also a +1 bp shift overnight.

Gold is up +US$3 to US$1507/oz.

US oil prices are little-changed today at just under US$56.50/bbl. The Brent benchmark is just under US$62.50.

The Kiwi dollar has risen back somewhat this morning, back up to over 63 USc. On the cross rates we are higher too at 93.3 AUc. Against the euro we are up to 57.7 euro cents. That puts the TWI-5 back up to just on 68.6 and its highest in more than a week.

Bitcoin is now at US$7,923 and another -5% drop from this time yesterday. Remember, this price was over US$10,000 on Monday, so that is a loss of -US$2,109 or -21% in five days, a real bear market now. The bitcoin rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

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39 Comments

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More builder failures. I have been calling a construction crash for more than a year. It's happening.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=122...

But Fritz, I've read countless times on here that house prices will take off again very soon. It's not a construction "crash" as you put it, but a reshuffle of affairs before everything shoots off into the stratosphere.

Even at the rapid growth, construction companies were functioning on razor-thin margins, capital shortages and massive cost overruns.
Our broken financial system allows banks to rake in grand margins from financing asset transfers, so they don't see a need to risk lending for ventures.

Unless we manage to clean-up the acts of the banking system globally, we're likely to remain trapped in this "boom-bust-repeat" cycle.

That's why we have all been soundly persuaded that taxing only income on productive labour and not taxing land is the way to go. Ultimately, more than be extracted through interest income than would otherwise be the case.

NZ Dan, you imply that construction companies going bust has a negative effect on house prices, how do you come to that conclusion? (btw the construction company that went bust owes under $1 Million, a very small amount in construction)

No, i'm not implying that construction companies going bust has a negative effect on house prices. I'm saying that negative house prices (growth) has a negative impact on construction companies which is what we are seeing at the moment. Hence my comment around the often predicted house price explosion in the coming months, this period of companies going bust is just a "reshuffle of affairs" in preparation for the next round of house price growth.

" a very small amount in construction"

Tell that to the people who going to not get paid...... life doesn't work by sitting round holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

It's a strange state of affairs when it's common to denigrate the character of folk receiving the benefit, but it's also commonplace to make money in construction by taking one's own cut then winding things up leaving creditors out of pocket. And the refrain is that we have to allow this because otherwise folk wouldn't take risks.

I don't suggest we do away with limited liability companies (or even the ability to set up a series of them), but we should at least be more cognisant of human nature in both scenarios.

10
up

My wife works in the building industry (as a builder), (I've also done short stints labouring on commercial sites) and I'm always staggered at 'the way things are done'. There's a level of *expected* incompetence and mismanagement that wouldn't pass in any other industry. The cultural issues are just bizarre.
For example: young/apprentice builders are paid poorly. They are expected to work very long hours in a physically demanding job. Thus a very unattractive prospect to most people -- generally only the physically strong, very stubborn, or those with no other options will take it up. (My wife falls into the second category.) The 'pot of gold' after years of this hard labour is that you start your own building company and live the dream of Being Your Own Boss. Except that this process hasn't selected for people with managerial competence, quite the contrary. The boss of the new building company has learnt how to build, but knows nothing about management or finance. So they borrow to the eyeballs, constantly blow money on unnecessary ute updates, can't manage their time or communicate with clients very well, and have no idea about how to manage staff except the way *their* boss did it... namely, hiring some young idiot and putting them through 4 years of poorly-paid toil, etcetera ad infinitum... I can't think of any other industry where "You know how to make (x)" is assumed to = "You can manage a company making (x)"

Absolutely riddled with incompetents, con artists and meth-heads... And the honest, competent builders have a competitive disadvantage against them because they're not willing to rip off subcontractors, staff, or customers. The whole industry desperately needs professionalisation.

Stay small, do your own houses, keep debt to a minimum. Use a good rental person to deal with tenants.
The hours are big when action is needed but small other times. The only idiots you have to deal with is the bank and yourself.

Wow.

Do you think compulsory industry insurance would make a difference to any of this? Insurance costs might become untenable for some unprofessional folk over time, surely.

(I.e. as one of the discussed alternatives to council over-regulation and being on the hook for costs.)

Yes Brisket,
There are some issues regarding competency in the building industry.
While the majority of those involved in the industry are both highly skilled and totally honest, the reality is that there is a fringe element who have the ability to enter the industry and undertake contract work as long as they can spell "builder" and own a hammer.
I find it amazing that those who sell houses and cars, your dentist, gas fitter, et al are in highly regulated industries and a business can not operate without a licence and qualified staff; yet this is not a requirement for builders - hence the ability of cowboys including Irish tourists to undertake contract work.
One needs to be very careful in choosing one's builder and lowest price should be at least a secondary consideration.

Small teams of builders dont go bankrupt (unless they are total muppets) but can not do a Kiwi build houses.
Larger firms are more efficient they claim....

More builder failures. I have been calling a construction crash for more than a year. It's happening.

In that case you should feel very guilty!

"Overall, the trade war doesn't seem to be fixing this (the USA trade) deficit".
The US-China "trade war" is probably more about containing China and geo-politics rather than simply the US trade deficit.
The reality is that China is already the world's second largest economy and within the next decade will overtake the US and have considerable more global influence. The current situation is exactly the same as the emergence and expansion of Japan during the 1930s and the US are employing the same containment actions.
Trade embargoes - such as that against Syria - are simply controlling actions.

12
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"The risk that the provision of credit may cause substantial hardship to some should not result in a significantly reduced ability to access credit by the vast majority of borrowers", writes treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

That says it all. Let's allow some of our citizens to knowingly get into debt beyond their capacity to service it or have a decent life ( if not go broke in the meantime) to keep the property market alive. What kind of society does that? Australia, it seems, and probably New Zealand...

Funny that, I read it as some may get into hardship but the vast majority won't, (which is exactly what he says), just like in every day life really. Isn't it amazing how the same sentence can be interpreted differently depending on one's outlook on life?

So...make sure the lending standards stop those who can't afford debt from getting it, and allow those who can afford it access?
Allowing, or accepting that, anyone might incur debt they cannot afford/service is negligent, and I'll suggest that if it happens, all sorts of lawsuits are in the offing.
The lending criteria should be the same for all potential borrowers, and suitably strict - what's wrong with that?
(NB: We all know that Fydenbergs comments are aimed at lowering lending standards, but if that sucks in the most vulnerable in our society - and people see that as 'fair; everyday life' - then we have a bigger problem than just the Housing Bubble on our hands)

Trump impeachment could happen fairly quickly: MSNBC https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/democrats-may-lure-republicans...

Won't get through the Senate.

Maybe not, but what damage will be done.......

Trump promised to drain the swamp - appears he is in the same swamp.

No damage, it is already proven to be incorrect and they have egg on their face.

How have they been proven to be incorrect. Has the investigation been completed, have all the facts been assessed. Your reply sounds more like blind belief rather than any due process or basis in fact.

The phone record was released. Then Biden on video boasting that he actually did what they claim Trump did.
They do not have an ounce of evidance..

As far as I am aware only a rough transcript has been released of Trumps conversation.Please provide a link to this video.

Look it up. I took a look at both sides of the story, you should as well.

1.10. BOOM!
https://youtu.be/KCF9My1vBP4

Who is telling porkies... Trump or Obama's right hand man? Open and shut case!

From

https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/24/watch-joe-biden-brag-about-bribing-...

The relevant portion of the speech is transcribed below.

"I remember going over and convincing our team, others, to convince that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.

So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a b-tch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time."

From

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/there-s-no-evidence-trump...

"Biden has taken credit for getting the prosecutor removed, boasting about it as a win for anticorruption in the country.

But there's little evidence he acted to help his son: Earlier this year, Bloomberg News, citing documents and an interview with a former Ukrainian official, reported the Burisma investigation had been dormant for more than a year by the time Biden called for the crackdown on corruption. The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general told the news agency he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his son. And PolitiFact reported it found no evidence to "support the idea that Joe Biden advocated with his son's interests in mind."

Additionally, the most recent former prosecutor general of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Bloomberg he had no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden."

Where is the link between the prosecutor getting fired (for being soft on corruption) and the investigation of Burisma. To me it looks like a link is being drawn where none exits.

That is a change of subject.
The fact is that Biden did exactly what the Dem's accuse Trump of.

That doesn't look like a change of subject. It's addressing your earlier comment. Repeating "the fact is" is no method to make something fact.

The link was produced that showed that Biden did the same thing.
Now it is about proving Biden did it for his son.
Biden is guilty of what the Dem's are accusing Trump of.

But Biden wasn't the President. Currently he hold's no public office but he is a challenger so why are these allegations only coming to light now ?

Because Trump was digging into them. Impeachment can take place for past actions, i.e. Obams can be inpeached.
Check out this video.
https://youtu.be/xBPtKSMJ_rc

I don't say they can't impeach Biden if he has left office, what I am saying is that the timing seems very convenient considering Biden is a contender for the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in the 2020 election. Trump promised to drain the swamp - seems like he is in the same swamp up to his neck.

IMHO the goal of Trumps actions was not seeking justice but political ends.

It reminds me of the televangelists who got caught in either sexual or financial improprieties over the years. Hypocrisy on the right, is as bad as the virtue signalling on the left. No one's perfect - even the most pious man (or woman) will do something wrong - if they think they can get away with it and then rationalize it away.

https://youtu.be/A-IIlBwislA
Whoops more evidance surfacing. Now Obama is caught up in it. The Dem's are screwed..
No hard and fast facts that Trump was involved but somehow he becomes the main story... fake media just like Russia gate all over again...

You prove my point - in an echo chamberer it is so hard to determine what is real - all the allegations against Biden could be fake news - distortions by the deranged "right". Take some facts, create links that may or may not exist and instant conspiracy where none exists.

What was the Mark Twain quote - "Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." In this case both sides are fools.

With all the political machinations in the world these days (Brexit and the EU, China and Hong Kong, Russia) I'm beginning to believe that a big "reset" is not such a bad idea. It seems win at all cost - so long as it is "my" side that wins.

I think we are past the time of a reset not happening now. It's just madness at present and nothing is major being done.
As always the victor will write the history..
New currency??? Has to be gold backed, what else is going to tame the masses...

Got no idea how that relates to Brexit but a funny script / clip on youtube.

The reference to Russia in dire need of mechanisation was funny.......and quite ironic since that is what Labour and the Green's want us to return to harvesting with just a sickle.