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Don't be scared of a housing collapse. Fear stories about it!

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By Peter Switzer

How scary is this Fairfax Media headline: Hasty interest rate hikes could trigger a property crash, UBS warns!? That’s what innocent readers were hit with but it’s like saying people will die if a meteor hits planet earth.

It’s a ‘well der’ observation but its timing is especially worrying because there are lots of Aussies out there who have been warned about a housing collapse for years and there are those who think it comes with a recession and stock market crash.

Let me be clear: if unemployment spiked up, I think we’d see a housing collapse and that would help create a recession and stock market crash but one important thing is missing­ —  the job market is doing really well.

This is what CommSec’s chief economist said about the latest job ad numbers: “Job advertisements rebounded in October, increasing by 1.4% to 169,577 ads after falling by a revised 0.7% in September. Job ads are up 12.5% on a year ago.”

And he threw this in as well: “The monthly Job Advertisements release is a leading employment indicator. Employers only seek additional staff if business activity is strong, and more importantly, if they expect that conditions will remain favourable

in coming months. It takes around 5-6 months for the new staff to be added to the payrolls.”

So that’s the future for jobs and how are they going now?

Employment is up nine months in a row and the NSW jobless rate is at a nine-year low!

James thinks 2018 will bring 3.1% economic growth and the Reserve Bank is even more positive. If the growth rate beats 3%, the jobless rate falls so the outlook for 2018 is pretty damn good.

Meanwhile, for the stock market ahead, Credit Suisse equity strategist Hasan Tevfik, told the SMH that "while Aussie equities are due for a pause in the short-term, we think there is more bull to come and we're targeting an index level of 6500 by end 2018."

The S&P/ASX 200 index at Friday’s close was 6029, so if Hasan is right then he thinks stocks go up by 7.8% before dividends, so he’s looking at a 12% pay-off from the market next year, which doesn’t sound like a bad year, does it?

So, what was the Fairfax beat up story?

Well, UBS economist, George Tharenou is saying a housing crash could happen if the RBA raises interest rates in a hasty kind of way.

He argues if the RBA hikes too fast or too early then we might be surprised about the negative effects but his argument has two BIG problems.

First, no one with any economic credibility thinks rates will rise too soon. A rise around mid-to late 2018 is the majority view of pointy-headed economists while some say it will be 2019!

Second, no one with economic credibility expects there will be too many hasty rate rises.

George is making a lot about the end of the golden era of house price rises but his own UBS says overall house prices will rise by 7% this year and 3% in 2018, which hardly sounds like a house price horror story.

By the way, UBS (where George comes from) doesn’t expect that the RBA will raise rates quickly but this revelation was at the end of the story, which pretty well means the whole article was close to being crap!

The summary could be: House prices could crash but the RBA won’t let it happen. Move on, no story here.

And you wonder why newspapers are becoming less relevant.

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Published: Monday, November 13, 2017

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