Stephen Koukoulas Insights for 2017

2017 Insights with Economist Stephen Koukoulas

4 min read
What’s the economic outlook for 2017? How will it affect our industry?

Leading economist Stephen Koukoulas provides insights into economy, housing, interest rates and economic policy for the year ahead.

What volatilities will confront us in 2017? How will economic policy affect the housing market? Where will interest rates move? Stephen explains below.

The Unfolding Worries for the Australian Economy and How We Always ‘Get Lucky’ After Each Problem Passes

Stephen Koukoulas

There’s on old saying that “it’s better to be lucky than smart” which, with respect to our politicians of recent times, sums up the performance of the Australian economy. More luck than good management.

Stephen Koukoulas, Economist

There was a huge dose of good luck when, from around 2003, the Chinese starting buying huge and increasing amounts of raw materials from us and not only that, paid us at never-before-seen prices for those commodities. This fuelled an income boom that saw wealth for all Australians rise sharply. It underpinned a once in 150-year boom in investment that has boosted productivity and with that international competitiveness.

The unfolding worries for the Australian economy - by Stephen Koukoulas Click To Tweet

Like all good booms, this one came to an end. Slower Chinese economic growth and a massive lift in global output of commodities flooded the market and the resulting glut of production forced prices lower. If everything else has stayed the same, we might have fallen into recession, much like Canada did when it suffered a similar fate.

This was when Australia got lucky again.

Because one consequence of the slump in mining investment and commodity prices, inflation fell sharply. This disinflation forced the RBA to slash interest rates to record lows, which in turn sparked an almighty housing boom. This boom helped to boost consumer wealth and spending and drove new dwelling construction to record highs, adding directly to GDP growth at a time when mining investment was falling away.

Stephen Koukoulas, Economist

The economy continued to grow at a decent pace as a result.

As 2016 draws to an end, this housing boom is near an end. You can hear the doomsayers now – “it’s a recession for Australia based on a house price bust, a collapse!”

To be sure, there is a tiny chance they might be right, but I doubt it.

As housing inevitably slows into 2017 and probably into 2018 (housing slumps always last a couple of years), there appears to be life in other parts of the economy that will rise to the rescue.

The housing boom is near an end. - Stephen Koukoulas Click To Tweet

All that mining investment from 5 to 10 years ago is churning out millions of tonnes of iron ore and coal for export. The natural gas market is about to boom, further adding to bottom line GDP. While prices are well below peak levels, they have edged up over the past 10 months which is boosting profits and the economy.

Add to that double-digit growth in tourist inflows to Australia, a record number of foreign students studying here and there is an area that is all but certain to pick up the sack when housing turns lower. The low level of the Australian dollar is undoubtedly helping to support education and tourism exports.

It looks like the economy will ‘get lucky’ again in 2017 continuing the recent trend the boom / bust cycle in one part of the economy being replaced by a boom / bust in another. The bottom line is another year or decent economic growth, not because policy makers have done all that much, but rather because Australia got lucky once more.

It looks like the economy will 'get lucky' again in 2017 - Stephen Koukoulas Click To Tweet

Stephen Koukoulas is Australia’s pre-eminent economist. The Australian Financial Review says “The Prime Minister’s Office has placed a premium on economic and policy advice recruiting high-profile market economist, Stephen Koukoulas.” Stephen brings the perfect blend of economics and storytelling to events in Australia and worldwide. To check Stephen’s availability call 1300 884 485.

Further Reading

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About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he's that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training. He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals. Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company's marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance's marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent. Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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