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24 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Bold buyers defy sell-off – Stocks the professional investors are buying

[COMMENT: Now this is interesting. After the recent sell-off on the Aussie market, there is speculation as to whether the market has now completed a short-term and necessary retracement, or whether there is a lot more downside to come. This story talks about some of the large professional fund managers who have taken up larger … Continue reading

31 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Prosecutors wrestle with Wall Street repeat offenders

(31 Oct 2014, AFR, p29, Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg) ‘On Wall Street, it would be the corporate equivalent of a parole ­violation: just two years after avoiding prosecution for a variety of crimes, some of the world’s biggest banks are suspected of having broken their ­promises to behave. A mixture of new issues and … Continue reading

31 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Farewell to QE but highest hurdle looms – Was the US Fed’s quantitative easing worth it?

(31 Oct 2014, AFR, p29, John KehoeAFR correspondent) Fed ends quantitative easing as US economy lifts $A plunges as Fed moves closer to rate rise ‘Ben Bernanke admitted in January that the United States Federal Reserve’s huge gamble on money printing “works in practice but not in theory”. So six years after the Fed began … Continue reading

31 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Businesses unleash animal spirits in switch from cuts to growth

(31 Oct 2014, AFR, p23, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman) ‘Australian businesses could be unleashing their animal spirits as new data suggests more are focusing on growth rather than cost-cutting. However, some economists are wary it may be too soon to call it a revival of ­corporate investment amid concerns the domestic economy remained weak, despite record-low interest … Continue reading

31 Oct 2014 (AFR) – QE ends with a calm that belies global credit risk

(31 OCt 2014, AFR, p22, Mark Mulligan) ‘Market reaction to the end of US quantitative easing was subdued on ­Thursday, reflecting long-range positioning by investors before the Federal Reserve’s final decision to wind up bond-buying stimulus after six years. After overnight gyrations in global currencies, short-dated US Treasury bonds and US equities, Asian financial markets … Continue reading

31 Oct 2014 (AFR) – SMSF property debt close to $9b

(31 Oct 2014, AFR, p10, Nassim Khadem) ‘Self-managed super funds are gearing into property more heavily, amid regulator concerns that debt is fuelling growth in house prices and creating risk for the financial system. The Australian Taxation Office’s 2013-14 annual report said limited-recourse borrowing arrangements, which allow self-managed super funds to gear into property, have … Continue reading

30 Oct 2014 (AFR) – EU blinks in budget battle with Italy, France

(30 Oct 2014, AFR, p20, David Jolly) ‘France and Italy have avoided a political collision with the European Union when officials in Brussels ­indicated they would approve the ­countries’ 2015 budgets after last-minute adjustments in the spending plans. The budget tweaks will still not ­enable France and Italy to bridge the deficit gaps that had risked … Continue reading

29 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Office market disconnect widening: survey

(29 Oct 2014, AFR, p36, Larry Schlesinger) ‘Investor appetite for office property strengthened in the third quarter of the year, according to the Australian Commercial Property Monitor published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  This was despite a further deterioration in leasing conditions over the quarter as occupier sentiment remained negative for the 13th … Continue reading

29 Oct 2014 (AFR) – ASIC steps in as Vocation shares plunge 57 per cent

[COMMENT: Share market investors beware – some stocks can fall dramatically over night.] (29 Oct 2014, AFR, p13, Simon Evans) ‘The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is closely examining the conduct of training and education firm Vocation over the past two months while law firm Maurice Blackburn is eyeing a potential class action after a … Continue reading

28 Oct 2014 (AFR) – ECB results: 25 banks fail capital buffer ‘stress test’

(28 Oct 2014, AFR, p12, Aaron Patrick AFR correspondent) ‘Six years after the global financial system almost collapsed under the weight of Wall Street risk-taking, more than a dozen of Europe’s larger banks are vulnerable to another shock. Twenty-five euro zone banks out of 150 failed a year-long “stress test” conducted by the European Central … Continue reading

28 Oct 2014 (TheAustn) – Low-doc loans make an unwanted return

(28 Oct 2014, The Australian, p19, Anthony Klan) ‘LOW-DOC loans — or “liar’s loans” as they are known in the US — have become even easier to obtain as lending standards ­loosen, with non-bank lenders ­aggressively spruiking the controversial products by slashing interest rates and offering cashback giveaways and cruises. ‘ Read more at

28 Oct 2014 (TheAge) – Reasons to b emad as hell – Financial planning has gotten beyond a joke

(28 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p19, Adele Ferguson) ‘When comedian Shaun Micallef’s latest episode of Mad as Hell did a spoof on the scandal-ridden financial planning industry it was a signal that the shenanigans had well and truly entered in the public psyche.’ Read more at And see that episode of Mad as … Continue reading

27 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Auctions get second wind

(27 Oct 2014, AFR, p3, Duncan Hughes and Nassim Khadem) ‘Melbourne’s record-breaking property market topped a weekend of buoyant national auction results, despite a sharp slowdown in price growth. A record number of properties were offered and sold in Melbourne, Sydney clearance rates returned to recent highs, and Brisbane performed strongly, weekend sales figures show.’ … Continue reading

27 Oct 2014 (TheAge) – Great Southern director Jeff Mews hopes for end to ‘four years of hell’

(27 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Shaun Drummond) ‘Former Great Southern director Jeff Mews flew from Perth to Melbourne on Sunday, hoping an end to “four years of hell” may be in sight. The 70-year-old retired businessman will learn early this week whether the Victorian Supreme Court will approve a settlement of a class action … Continue reading

27 Oct 2014 (TheAge) – China demand for steel cooling, says BlueScope

(27 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Tim Binstead) ‘BlueScope Steel chief executive Paul O’Malley says the days of high growth in Chinese steel demand are over and builders are moving from China back to the United States. “What we’re seeing on the ground is a significant reduction in confidence domestically within China as it … Continue reading

27 Oct 2014 (TheAge) – The response to the Commonwealth financial planning scandal shows banks really are above the law

[COMMENT: And we used to think that our bank manager was a good friend. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more.] (27 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Michael West) ‘Met a bloke the other day who had lost the lot. He inherited a fortune, trusted a bank to invest it for him. … Continue reading

25 Oct 23014 (AFR) – New home prices slump in China amid tight credit

(25 Oct 2014, AFR, p13, Zhang Dingmin) ‘The prices of new homes fell in all but one Chinese city monitored by the government last month as the easing of property curbs failed to stem a market downturn amid tight credit. Prices dropped in 69 of the 70 cities in September from August, the statistics bureau said … Continue reading

24 Oct 2014 (AFR) – China factory activity lifts, but output drops

(24 Oct 2014, AFR, p36, Lisa Murray AFR correspondent) ‘China’s factory sector reported a small pick-up in business activity during October as better hiring conditions offset a drop in output, extending a run of mixed economic data for the world’s No. 2 economy. While stronger exports are supporting manufacturers, overall demand remains weak and output levels … Continue reading

24 Oct 2014 (AFR) – ASIC stand brings more convictions (for insider trading)

[COMMENT: Some interesting statistics here about the prevalence of insider trading. This is very interesting for the share traders out there who see strange things in the price charts – such as price jump on high volume but no news. Perhaps this actually happens more often than we know.] (24 Oct 2014, AFR, p8, Marianna … Continue reading

24 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Home sales show signs on flagging – Housing sales are now in decline

(24 Oct 2014, AFR, p6, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘If frenzied home buying constitutes a housing bubble, then the property ­market has shown signs of losing fizz. While turnover levels and auction clearance rates show the market is still buoyant, the number of home sales peaked in November last year. RP Data figures released on ­Thursday show … Continue reading

24 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Public shaming for rogue planners (on shame file)

(24 Oct 2014, AFR, p1, Patrick Durkin) ‘Investors will be able to identify bad apples in the financial planning industry through the creation of a public register which reveals penalties, bans and sanctions against rogue advisers. The national register is the centrepiece of the government’s response to a five-month parliamentary inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank … Continue reading

24 Oct 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Coalition refuses royal commission probe into CBA

(24 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p19, Adele Ferguson and Ruth Williams) ‘The Coalition government has refused to hold a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as part of its response to a landmark Senate inquiry. The inquiry, which spanned 12 months and attracted a record number of submissions, scrutinised the performance of … Continue reading

23 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Chinese investors still ambitious – looking to Australia

(23 Oct 2014, AFR, p50, Matthew Cranston) ‘In a magazine at a hotel in the northern Chinese city Dalian, there is a map charting the city’s district, not much bigger than Brisbane. In the ensuing 30 pages, there are 240 residential projects advertised for sale, eight to a page, each in a separate box like … Continue reading

23 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Ex-Macquarie Private Wealth advisers get ASIC notices

(23 Oct 2014, AFR, p19, Jake Mitchell and Sarah Thompson) ‘Several former Macquarie Private Wealth advisers are being targeted by the corporate regulator which has served notices requesting information in relation to an investigation into whether they gave faulty advice to clients. Macquarie’s private wealth unit is subject to an enforceable undertaking (EU) overseen by … Continue reading

23 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Sydney stays strong as house price growth slows

(23 Oct 2014, AFR, p6, Rebecca Thistleton) RBA issues fresh risk warning to property investors Inflation slowdown leaves room for low rates ‘Sydney has defied a national house price slowdown, but rapid increases appear to have eased in line with the Reserve Bank’s jawboning efforts. House price data for the September quarter released by Fairfax-owned … Continue reading

23 Oct 2014 (TheAge) – Fruit price surge pushes CPI higher – Consumer prices up 0.5%

(23 Oct 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p27, Mark Mulligan) Petrol price drops put $625 a year back into shoppers’ pockets ‘A surprise jump in fruit prices has helped drive consumer prices 0.5 per cent higher in the September quarter as the weaker Aussie dollar increased the cost of imported produce. House prices, property rates, and … Continue reading

22 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Well-planned portfolios in the real world

[COMMENT: How much more evidence do we need that managed funds can be dangerous? Do you know anyone who has been successful at investing in managed funds over a longer term? Surely it is not common because there are very very few fund managers who can make profits year on year. And odn’t be fooled … Continue reading

22 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Life cover policies lapse in light of lousy advice

(22 Oct 2014, AFR, p25, Jeremy Chunn) ‘If life insurance is meant to reward the living with peace of mind and the loved ones with security, in many cases it’s the salesperson who gets a nice payout. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission found in just over a third of cases where cover is bought through … Continue reading

21 Oct 2014 (AFR) – Construction sector firms up

(21 Oct 2014, AFR, p50, Michael Bleby) ‘Commercial construction has returned to growth for the first time in more than four years, suggesting the ­industry’s pivot from resources is ­gathering steam, the latest quarterly survey of the industry by Master ­Builders Australia shows. Health, education and retail work are some of the areas that have pushed … Continue reading

21 Oct 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Timbercorp liquidator offers to cut a deal with victims

[COMMENT: Now this is an important lesson for leveraged investors, and buy-and-hold investors. A classic example of how you can lose not only all of your investment, but MORE than the investment. This liquidator is chasing the leveraged investors for the BORROWED funds that they also lost – even if it bankrupts the investors? Is … Continue reading