Weekly Snapshot - James Fitzgerald 11 May 21

 

Apple had a good year in 2020. It seems like everyone used the pandemic, cashed up and stuck at home, to upgrade their laptops, tablets and phones. Mac sales were up 70%, iPads up 80% and iPhone sales up 65% during 2020. Apple’s profit doubled and they sold $48 billion worth of iPhones (53% of total revenue). Wow!

 

Other big news this week is that the first physical copy of James’ book arrived – it’s not officially available until 1 June but you can pre-purchase on his website.

 

It’s been a big couple of weeks for James who also returned this week from a couple of weeks off during which he married and went on his honeymoon.

 

How was his trip? Excellent, save for the fact it was impossible to get a booking for dinner in the more popular restaurants in Port Douglas and greater Cairns (that didn’t go down overly well with his new wife, who charged him with organising all things honeymoon related).

 

Why?                                                                                                                        

 

There was a shortage of workers; kitchenhands, front of house waiters, bar staff, cleaners and chefs. They are all in high demand and limited supply. In fact, if you took a stroll along the main street of Port Douglas, you would struggle to spot a restaurant or café that wasn’t advertising for one or multiple staff.

 

As a result, the five main restaurants and most popular resorts were operating at 50% to 70% of their full capacity. Not because of demand, but their ability to service customers. Depending on the restaurant there was a waiting list of 40 to 70 people every night hoping there would be a cancellation.

 

You see, Far North Queensland – along with many other popular holiday hot spots – relies heavily on overseas temporary visa workers to fill their jobs.

 

In fact, during 2017, 2018 and 2019 roughly 130,000 people arrived from overseas to work on a short-term temporary visa, the bulk of those people finding their way to regional areas to work in hospitality or agriculture (that’s for another week).

 

You might be thinking ‘sure, but we’re not getting any overseas tourists either, so doesn’t it even itself out?’.

 

It doesn’t quite work that way. We’ve mentioned before that Australia spends $60 billion on overseas travel each year versus $40 billion which is spent by overseas tourists inside Australia (in other words, we spend 50% more than we receive).

 

What’s more, Tourism Australia reported that during 2018 and 2019 11.15 million Aussies travelled abroad every year per annum travelled abroad on a short-term basis (be it holiday or business). That compares with 9.35 million overseas visitors coming to Australia.

 

Those numbers reduced to 2.8 million Aussies going abroad and 1.8 million foreigners coming to Australia during 2020 – a BIG drop – with the majority of that coming in the first four months of the year when borders were still open.

 

In fact, in December 2019 and January 2020 Australia had 1.835 million overseas visitors come into the country. That number was 16,850 in December 2020 and January 2021.

 

At the same time, we saw 2.15 million Australians travel abroad in December 2019 and January 2020, versus only 25,650 in December 2020 and January 2021.

 

What does it mean? Well, Australians still travelled – all the economic data suggests that. In fact, we’re cashed up right now, we’re just travelling domestically instead of internationally.

 

Regions like Cairns, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Central Coast, Mornington Peninsula and others are seeing even more people than they were when we had international borders open.

 

The only difference is we’re missing the 130,000 people we normally have coming in to fill the jobs Australians don’t want to do – or can’t do because of geographical reasons. That number is closer to 250,000 if you included skilled migrants.

 

That’s why we spoke about the weird anomaly we’re seeing at the moment – 100,000 more jobs advertised than this time last year at the same time there are 500,000 more people looking for a job and on welfare payments.

 

That’s a big challenge for the government to try and get on top of, otherwise they’re going to have a lot of small businesses missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity to cash in on a domestic travel boom!

 

Speaking of booms, the housing market is in one right now as a result of record low interest rates.

 

House prices are up year on year by 8% across all Australian capital cities – slightly higher in Adelaide (11.1%), Sydney (10.4%) and Brisbane (9.6%). Rents are also up in Brisbane and Adelaide by 6% year on year, off the back of 20-year high interstate migration in both regions.

 

The Reserve Bank of Australia came out during the week with its monthly announcement on interest rates.

 

The outcome? Rates to stay at record low 0.1%, and not likely to increase until 2024 at the earliest (i.e. unchanged from their position for the past six months now).

 

What was different this time around, was that they increased their forecasts on unemployment (to be 4.5% by end 2021, versus previous forecast 5.5%) and inflation (to be 2% by mid-2023 versus previous forecast of 1.75%).

 

Still, their main objective is to get inflation closer to 3% and keep it there (hence their comment 2024 at the earliest). It “will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably in the 2% to 3% range.” For that to happen, we need wage growth.

 

The only question is what does unemployment have to be for us to see wage growth circa 3% (therefore enough to actually make an impact on inflation)?

 

Well, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg thinks that number is 4.5%. RBA Governor Phil Lowe thinks it’s 4%.

 

Either way, it’s 5.6% today so we’ve got a few years until we see interest rates go up.

 

A good time to own property and a once in a lifetime opportunity to get into the market, smash down your home debt, and/or build yourself a property portfolio.

 

Interested in knowing more? Check out the weekly podcast we do at  The Double Shot Podcast.