Christmas is coming! Hang in there!


Bruce Brammall, The West Australian, 11 December 2017


Hang in there, dudes and dudettes. You’re nearly done. There’s only a week or two to go until most of us get to clock off for the year.

December is the most frantic month of the year. You’ve got to squeeze in 74 Christmas parties/catch-ups in about 24 days, which leaves less time to get all that work done and on to other people’s desks before you knock off for a few weeks.

But I love it. I love December. As knackering as it is. As damaged as your liver will become. The finish line is so close. You’ll make it. You might hobble/stumble/crawl to the finish line. But you’ll get there.

Normally at this time of year, the post-mortem examinations and dissections of the belly button-fluff begins.

It’s part “what I learned this year” (WILTY), and part “what I wish I’d known” (WIWIK) before 2017 began.

From a people perspective, I learned that so many famous faces aren’t really who they have always said they were.

Kevin Spacey is now openly gay, Don Burke says he’s autistic and Harvey Weinstein’s problems stem from the fact he’s actually a sex addict. No-one knows where all these revelations will end.

WILTY: Commit any appalling behaviour you want, just have an “excuse” ready. If you are famous and commit really dastardly behaviour, damage control starts with an at least partly acceptable mental health condition.

“Our banks don’t need a royal commission.” “Our banks don’t need a royal commission.” “Our banks don’t need … oh, hang on, our banks do need a royal commission.”

WIWIK: That Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was such an accomplished gymnast! He must have been practicing at home. Then he casually walks out and lands a triple-double backflip that no-one believed was even possible.

Banks effectively agreed to the royal commission. He was losing support amongst the Coalition. And the thinking was it would be better done with a Coalition government setting the terms of reference, than Labor.

Bashing banks is an Australian national pasttime. Now, we’ll get to squeeze a two decades of bank bashing in to one convenient year, prior to the 2020 election.

Donald Trump. Wow. We’ve never seen a leader of a major Western country quite like this. Mind-blowing. The headlines and tweets confound us every day.

But no matter which way you fall on him, the impact on US stock markets has been, um, unexpected. The major indices are up around 25 per cent.

WIWIK: I talk to clients daily about being diversified, globally. And most years in the last 6-7 have seen international markets wallop domestic. If I’d known, I’d have loaded up more internationally, personally. Australia’s markets, during the same time, have been a bit, meh.

Western Australians should be feeling like the meat in the sandwich when it comes to property.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has continued to do what it can to attack the appetite for lending, particularly for investors. This has largely been aimed at Sydney and Melbourne property markets. But their tools are blunt and the impact is, therefore, national.

It’s harder to borrow money. And when it’s harder to get money, property prices are going to suffer. And while it hasn’t slowed or stopped rises (until maybe recently) in Sydney and Melbourne, Perth’s property market has been a victim.

WILTY: There’s an opportunity coming in WA. Not sure when exactly. But it’s coming. WA property shouldn’t, can’t, won’t, stay downtrodden forever. The ludicrous prices achieved during the mining boom are still shaking themselves out. But, at some point, common sense inevitably returns.

And the same applies, in reverse, for the rest of the country. Sydney and Melbourne can’t continue double digit price rises. Not sustainable. But in every market, there are opportunities.

And, lastly, interest rates. I thought they’d be headed north years ago. But month after month, the Reserve Bank has held them down. Obviously, interest rates have gone up for many, particularly investors, as the other regulator, APRA, pulls its strings.

WILTY: It’s now more than seven years since Australians have felt an official interest rate rise. Last one was in November 2010. When it comes, no matter how small it is, it’s gonna hurt.

I hope you have a cracker end to 2017. Cheers.

Bruce Brammall is the author of Mortgages Made Easy and is both a financial advisor and mortgage broker. E:

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