Things look bad.
Recession talk is in the air. I have my doubts about that. But the talk alone is very suggestive, and there are lots of reasons for it.
Chinese markets are falling, our own stock-market is in a sustained slide, and with all that bubble talk our housing construction sector looks weaker.
One way to answer that is to look at what business is up to. In May, we checked in with business spending plans and they gave me intestinal cramps. Things have changed, sort of…
Capital expenditure is what makes your business bigger, lets you employ more people, etc. It’s one of the big signals of future economic growth. And it’s going backwards.
The mining sector is in such a funk that it won’t bring us any growth. This next graph shows the plans the mining industry has for capital expenditure.
The grey bars show actual expenditure. The last one for 2014-15 is the lowest in four years. The white ones are plans for next year. The latest white bar (3rd estimate for 2015-16) is the lowest 3rd estimate in five years.That is having a seriously negative effect on Australia’s total capital expenditure. Check out the increasing steepness of that slope at the end. Manufacturing won’t save us. But there’s other parts to the economy. Other selected industries are investing more than ever.
Other selected industries sounds like a miscellaneous grab-bag. But check out the labels on the vertical axes. This is a massive part of our economy. Not only that, it just invested more than it expected, which is more than ever. Plans for 2105-16 are more modest, but increasing fast.Other selected industries* includes:
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services
Transport, Postal and Warehousing
Information Media and Telecommunications
Finance and Insurance
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Accommodation and Food Services
Administrative and Support Services
Arts and Recreation Services
In other words, a whole lot of important parts of our economy that we can actually believe in.
And there’s one simple reason why they might grow. Our falling dollar.
The slow growth of non-mining industries in the last few years can be attributed to our high dollar. America’s incredible recovery from its recession in the same time period can be explained by its low currency.
A falling dollar could flip slow growth on its head. And we’d be too busy worrying about mining to notice.
The current mood of widespread gloom may prove to have been peak fear.
*This whole private capital expenditure data-set excludes healthcare and social assistance, which as we know, is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. In Melbourne, a billion dollar new cancer hospital is being built, for example. That’s not in the stats. Further reason to hope.