Saturday, September 26, 2009

We're getting richer at last

A bit:

Australians are getting richer again, for the first time in almost two years.

Bureau of Statistics figures released Friday show household wealth rebounded in the June quarter after sliding for six consecutive quarters.

From peak to trough wealth per person slipped from $58,900 to $35,000 - an extraordinary drop of 40 per cent. In the June quarter it bounced back 9 per cent, to $38,000.

The measure includes household wealth held in the form of cash, bank deposits, bonds and shares, net of borrowing but significantly excludes wealth held in the form of superannuation and real estate.

"It's the share market that's doing it and it will continue," said Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian who calculated the per-capita figures...

"Equity markets have rallied by over 50 per cent so far this year so there will be more in coming quarters. The pickup in business and consumer confidence will help as well."

Companies are also better off as a result of paying down debt while raising a record amount of new equity.

Non-financial companies raised a record $29.7 billion in June quarter by issuing new shares. Net company assets have jumped to their highest level on record.

The Financial Accounts lend weight to an assessment by the Reserve Bank in its Financial Stability Review this week that Australia's recovery is under way.

Governor Glenn Stevens will be quizzed about about it at a Sydney hearing of the Senate's economics committee on Monday.

Treasury Secretary Ken Henry was to front the committee Monday but yesterday asked for a delay of a fortnight to give the Treasury further time to prepare briefing materials.

He told a business audience in Brisbane Wednesday that a sustained recovery depended "on the continued implementation of existing stimulus commitments".

"The fiscal stimulus has been designed so that it withdraws gradually," he said. "Withdrawing the stimulus more quickly would risk stalling the economy and causing a steeper rise in the unemployment rate."

Updated Westpac forecasts suggest Australia's net foreign debt will now top out at $108 billion rather than the $188 billion forecast in the May budget.

Published in today's SMH and Age