Goldman describes Australia’s lost decade | Macrobusiness

Posted by Houses and Holes. Reproduced with kind permission from Macrobusiness.

Goldman’s Tim Toohey has quantified the unwinding commodity super-cycle for ‘Straya’:

Lower commodity prices risk $0.5trn in forgone earnings
The outlook for revenues from Australian LNG and bulk commodities shipments – which account for almost half of total export earnings – has deteriorated significantly. To be clear, overall revenues are still forecast to increase substantially over the coming years – underpinned by a broadly unchanged strong outlook for physical shipments (particularly for LNG). However, in a nominal sense, the outlook is far less positive than before. This owes to a structurally weaker price environment, with GS downgrades of 18% to 25% to key long term price forecasts for LNG and bulk commodities suggesting that cumulative earnings over the years to 2025 are on track to be ~$0.5trn lower than previously forecast.



… and will erode Australia’s trade/fiscal positions
The deterioration in the earnings environment naturally has direct implications for Australia’s international trade and fiscal positions. On the former, a return to surplus by CY18 no longer looks feasible, and we now expect a deficit of ~$15bn. On the latter, relative to the 2014 Commonwealth Budget, we estimate that weaker commodity prices will cause a ~$40bn shortfall in tax revenues over the next four years. Given our expectation that Australia’s LNG sector will deliver no additional PRRT revenues over the coming decade, and the ~$18bn downgrade to commodity-related tax in the December MYEFO, we therefore see a risk of further material revenue downgrades at May’s 2015 Budget.


Resulting in changed GDP, RBA cash rate and FX forecasts
Although the commodity export changes mainly manifest through the nominal economy, there are significant impacts back through to the real economy. Lower export earnings result in lower profits, lower tax receipts, lower investment and lower employment. We continue to expect just 2.0% GDP growth in 2015 but have lowered our 2016 to 2018 real GDP forecasts by an average of 50ppts in each calendar year. As a consequence, we have moved forward the timing of the next RBA rate cut to May 2015, where we see the cash rate remaining at 2.0% until Q416, where we expect a 25bp hike. We now expect just 75bps of hikes in 2017 to 3.0% and rates on hold  in 2018. Despite the recent move in the A$ towards our 75c 12 month target, the reassessment of the medium term forecast outlook argues for a new lower target 12 month target of 72c.

OK, that’s quite a piece of work and congratulations to Tim Toohey for getting so far ahead of pack. I have just two points to add.

The LNG forecasts look good but as gloomy as his iron ore outlook is, it is not gloomy enough. $40 is a more reasonable price projection for 2016-18 and we’ll only climb out of that very slowly. That makes the dollar and interest rate forecasts far too bullish and hawkish.

Second, even after these downgrades, Mr Toohey still has growth of 3.25% GDP penned in for 2016 and 3.5% for 2017. We’ll have strong net exports and is about it. With the capex unwind running right through both years, housing construction to stop adding to growth by next year, the car industry wind-down at the same time, political strife destroying the public infrastructure pipeline, the terms of trade crashing throughout and households battered half to death by all of it, those targets are of the stretch variety, to say the least.

The analysis is exceptional, The conclusions, sadly, overly optimistic.

A tough time in the market

This has been a tough few weeks for investors and may continue for several more. My advice, however, is: Don’t change your strategy. If your plan was to stay in the market and ride out secondary movements, stick to your plan. Investors are notorious for selling at the wrong time and buying at the wrong time.

Weak economic data out of Europe is likely to hold back the market until the reporting cycle, that started with positive earnings surprises from Costco and Alcoa this week, is well under way. None of our macroeconomic and volatility filters indicate market stress and we believe the best strategy is to maintain existing exposure to equities.

Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG]

LNG had a less than auspicious introduction to the ASX 200, with a sharp sell-off in the last few weeks. There are signs that buyers are returning to the stock, with a strong blue candle on Friday when most other stocks were falling. We recommend that investors continue to hold the stock, at least for the next few weeks.

S&P 500 VIX

Vladimir Putin’s pointless conflict with Europe leaves it a vassal of China – Telegraph

From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

European officials calculate that Mr Putin will not dare to cut off energy supplies, since to do so would bring the Russian state to its knees within months. But even if he tried – as a shock tactic – it would not achieve much. Oil can be obtained anywhere.

Europe’s gas inventories have risen to 81pc of capacity, up from 46pc in March. Britain is at 94pc……Japan has just given the go-ahead for two nuclear reactors to restart in October, with seven likely by the end of the year. Koreans are also firing up closed nuclear reactors. All this frees up LNG.

Whether this is fruit of a co-ordinated strategy, the net effect is that inventories and spare LNG could cover a Russian cut-off for a long time, probably through the winter with rationing. Areas of eastern Europe have no pipeline supply from the West, but “regas” ships could plug some gaps in an emergency. The gas weapon is not what it seems.

The Kremlin is counting on acquiescence from the BRICS quintet as it confronts the West, and counting on capital from China to offset the loss of Western money. This is a pipedream. China’s Xi Jinping drove a brutal bargain in May on a future Gazprom pipeline, securing a price near $350 per 1,000 cubic metres that is barely above Russia’s production costs….

Read more at Vladimir Putin's pointless conflict with Europe leaves it a vassal of China – Telegraph.

Why is Australia paying Japanese prices for natural gas?

Australian-born chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, Andrew Liveris, talks with Alan Kohler on ABC Inside Business about the US fiscal cliff and why Australia needs a cohesive energy policy.

“We have to create an infrastructure such that we can have gas-on-gas on competition domestically. If you build the infrastructure, and private sector can do it, and allow shared pipelines, if you build it you will get a domestic gas system and a pricing system that defies the oil gas parity pricing that countries like Australia should never have. If you have the resource in your country, you shouldn’t be paying the highest alternative price of the country that doesn’t have the resource. Why are we paying Japan energy prices when we have domestic gases?”