The World Tied $3.5 Trillion-Plus of Debt to Inflation. The Costs Are Now Adding Up.
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,599,192 (-0.51%)       Melbourne $986,501 (-0.24%)       Brisbane $938,846 (+0.04%)       Adelaide $864,470 (+0.79%)       Perth $822,991 (-0.13%)       Hobart $755,620 (-0.26%)       Darwin $665,693 (-0.13%)       Canberra $994,740 (+0.67%)       National $1,027,820 (-0.13%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $746,448 (+0.19%)       Melbourne $495,247 (+0.53%)       Brisbane $534,081 (+1.16%)       Adelaide $409,697 (-2.19%)       Perth $437,258 (+0.97%)       Hobart $531,961 (+0.68%)       Darwin $367,399 (0%)       Canberra $499,766 (0%)       National $525,746 (+0.31%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,586 (+169)       Melbourne 15,093 (+456)       Brisbane 7,795 (+246)       Adelaide 2,488 (+77)       Perth 6,274 (+65)       Hobart 1,315 (+13)       Darwin 255 (+4)       Canberra 1,037 (+17)       National 44,843 (+1,047)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,675 (+47)       Melbourne 7,961 (+171)       Brisbane 1,636 (+24)       Adelaide 462 (+20)       Perth 1,749 (+2)       Hobart 206 (+4)       Darwin 384 (+2)       Canberra 914 (+19)       National 21,987 (+289)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $770 (-$10)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $595 (-$5)       Perth $650 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $654 (-$3)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (+$10)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $470 ($0)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $583 (+$1)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,253 (-65)       Melbourne 5,429 (+1)       Brisbane 3,933 (-4)       Adelaide 1,178 (+17)       Perth 1,685 ($0)       Hobart 393 (+25)       Darwin 144 (+6)       Canberra 575 (-22)       National 18,590 (-42)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,894 (-176)       Melbourne 4,572 (-79)       Brisbane 1,991 (+1)       Adelaide 377 (+6)       Perth 590 (+3)       Hobart 152 (+6)       Darwin 266 (+10)       Canberra 525 (+8)       National 15,367 (-221)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.50% (↓)       Melbourne 3.11% (↓)       Brisbane 3.43% (↓)       Adelaide 3.58% (↓)     Perth 4.11% (↑)      Hobart 3.78% (↑)      Darwin 5.47% (↑)        Canberra 3.66% (↓)       National 3.31% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.09% (↑)        Melbourne 6.09% (↓)       Brisbane 6.04% (↓)     Adelaide 5.97% (↑)        Perth 7.14% (↓)       Hobart 4.50% (↓)       Darwin 7.78% (↓)       Canberra 5.83% (↓)       National 5.76% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)        National 0.9% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.7 (↓)       Brisbane 31.0 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)       Perth 34.0 (↓)       Hobart 34.8 (↓)       Darwin 35.1 (↓)       Canberra 28.5 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 25.8 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)       Brisbane 27.6 (↓)       Adelaide 21.8 (↓)       Perth 37.8 (↓)       Hobart 25.2 (↓)       Darwin 24.8 (↓)       Canberra 41.1 (↓)       National 29.3 (↓)           
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The World Tied $3.5 Trillion-Plus of Debt to Inflation. The Costs Are Now Adding Up.

With roughly $770 billion of borrowings linked to retail prices, Britain is feeling the pinch

Wed, Jul 26, 2023 8:32amGrey Clock 5 min

Governments and companies around the world spent decades loading up on trillions of dollars of debt whose interest costs rise and fall alongside inflation. But what served as cheap funding when prices were stagnant has rapidly become more expensive.

The inflation-linked headache echoes the broader challenges arising at the end of more than a decade of global easy money, in which debtors borrowed vast amounts at very low, and sometimes negative, interest rates. Investors are on alert for financial vulnerabilities after a crisis in U.S. regional banks this year, and with strains emerging in commercial property.

Borrowing costs of all sorts have risen sharply for governments, businesses and consumers, as central banks have raised key interest rates to combat price pressures. Rates have surged on inflation-linked borrowings, but these aren’t the only source of pain.

As standard bonds with fixed rates mature, they need to be replaced with more expensive new debt. Meanwhile, interest rates on loans are often floating, meaning they quickly reflect changes in policy rates.

Yields on benchmark 10-year fixed-rate bonds, a proxy for government borrowing costs, have climbed to about 4.3% for the U.K. and 3.9% for the U.S. Both were below 1% during the pandemic.

Governments will pay roughly $2.2 trillion in overall debt interest this year, Fitch Ratings estimates. The U.S. Treasury’s interest cost grew 25% to $652 billion in the nine months through June. Germany’s debt-servicing bill is expected to soar to 30 billion euros this year, or some $33.2 billion, from €4 billion in 2021.

Governments had $3.5 trillion in outstanding inflation-linked debt at the end of 2022, according to the Bank for International Settlements, equivalent to about 11% of their total borrowings.

The poster child for the inflation-linked problem is Britain, which has experienced the fastest rise in debt costs in the Group of Seven advanced democracies. The U.K. first embraced such debt under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and in 1981 became one of the first developed economies to issue inflation-linked debt: securities that are known as linkers there and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, in the U.S. Both the amount due to investors once the bonds mature and the regular interest payments they receive move with inflation.

About a quarter of U.K. debt is now tied to inflation, trailing only a handful of emerging markets with a history of runaway prices such as Uruguay, Brazil and Chile.

“We stick out like a sore thumb,” said Sanjay Raja, chief U.K. economist at Deutsche Bank.

The U.K.’s debt woes are complicated by its longstanding reliance on a measure of price increases that has fallen out of favour: the retail price index, or RPI. Some 600 billion pounds, equivalent to roughly $770 billion, of bonds are linked to this gauge, which has consistently risen faster than more widely used consumer-price indexes. London has pledged to phase out RPI by 2030.

Inflation as measured by the RPI topped 14% in October and was still 11% in June compared with a year earlier. Economists expect U.K. inflation to keep falling this year, albeit more slowly than in other major economies.

In theory, higher interest payouts should be balanced by rising revenue. While higher inflation means bigger payouts to bondholders, it should also bring in more taxes.

That logic holds especially true in markets like the U.K., where inflation gauges are deeply embedded in the economy. Tax thresholds, pension and welfare payments, rail fares and cellphone bills are often linked to price indexes.

But the energy shock that fuelled recent inflation upended that math, since higher energy bills drove up RPI even as earnings and consumer spending lagged behind. The U.K. is experiencing the “wrong sort of inflation,” the U.K.’s Office for Budget Responsibility said this month. The sensitivity of U.K. debt to inflation was unprecedented, the watchdog said.

The U.K.’s debt sustainability is a focus for investors after a market meltdown last fall, triggered by then-Prime Minister Liz Truss’s tax-cutting plans.

Her successor Rishi Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have sought to restore market confidence with pledges to contain inflation and bring down debt. As the U.K.’s interest costs climb, and with debt now surpassing 100% of gross domestic product, those promises are getting harder to keep while maintaining investor confidence.

The debt burden also undermines Sunak’s hopes to woo voters and revive the economy with tax cuts and spending measures ahead of a general election expected to take place next year.

“We could quickly be in a situation where we’re facing some renewed sense of crisis, particularly with an economic backdrop of stagflation with really weak growth and overshooting inflation,” said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer at RBC BlueBay Asset Management in London. “Further policy missteps could easily be punished by the market.”

Higher bond yields and stickier inflation will add an extra £30 billion to the U.K.’s annual government debt bill, estimates Bank of America economist Robert Wood.

“The government has three options: You can plan for weaker spending, you could raise taxes or you could borrow more,” he said. “Certainly one could say that this rise in debt-interest costs is incompatible with cutting taxes.”

The U.K. is selling fewer linkers, which are likely to make up 11% of bond issuance this fiscal year, down from above 20% throughout the 2010s.

One veteran U.K. central banker said linkers had largely done their job as envisioned in the 1980s.

“We were coming out of a decade in which inflation had been extremely high. People were very skeptical about the ability of any government, particularly the Conservative government, to bring inflation down to a low and stable rate,” said Charles Goodhart, who was an adviser at the Bank of England between 1969 and 1985.

Fears that linkers would lead to fresh wage-price spirals as unions demanded inflation-linked increases, didn’t play out, he said. Thatcher, who called inflation “the destroyer of all,” saw linkers as “sleeping policemen,” ensuring the government wasn’t tempted to let inflation run to help inflate debt away.

“It makes the current fiscal position more difficult. But that’s what Mrs. Thatcher actually wanted,” said Goodhart. “She wanted governments to resist inflation more strongly.”

Companies are also feeling the pressure from inflation-linked borrowing. The U.K.’s largest water company, Thames Water, nearly collapsed in recent weeks as investors questioned its ability to repay £14 billion in debt, about half of which is linked to inflation. Thames Water’s debt is RPI-linked, but customer prices now track CPI, which lags behind the RPI by about 3 percentage points more slowly.


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The Great Wealth Transfer: How rich millennials will invest the billions coming their way

The younger generation will bring a different mindset to how and where their newfound wealth is invested

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 2 min

There is an enormous global wealth transfer in its beginning stages, whereby one of the largest generations in history – the baby boomers – will pass on their wealth to their millennial children. Knight Frank’s global research report, The Wealth Report 2024, estimates the wealth transfer set to take place over the next two decades in the United States alone will amount to US$90 trillion.

But it’s not just the size of the wealth transfer that is significant. It will also deliver billions of dollars in private capital into the hands of investors with a very different mindset.

Seismic change

Wealth managers say the young and rich have a higher social and environmental consciousness than older generations. After growing up in a world where economic inequality is rife and climate change has caused massive environmental damage, they are seeing their inherited wealth as a means of doing good.

Ben Whattam, co-founder of the Modern Affluence Exchange, describes it as a “seismic change”.

“Since World War II, Western economies have been driven by an overt focus on economic prosperity,” he says. “This has come at the expense of environmental prosperity and has arguably imposed social costs. The next generation is poised to inherit huge sums, and all the research we have commissioned confirms that they value societal and environmental wellbeing alongside economic gain and are unlikely to continue the relentless pursuit of growth at all costs.”

Investing with purpose

Mr Whattam said 66% of millennials wanted to invest with a purpose compared to 49% of Gen Xers. “Climate change is the number one concern for Gen Z and whether they’re rich or just affluent, they see it as their generational responsibility to fix what has been broken by their elders.”

Mike Pickett, director of Cazenove Capital, said millennial investors were less inclined to let a wealth manager make all the decisions.

“Overall, … there is a sense of the next generation wanting to be involved and engaged in the process of how their wealth is managed – for a firm to invest their money with them instead of for them,” he said.

Mr Pickett said another significant difference between millennials and older clients was their view on residential property investment. While property has generated immense wealth for baby boomers, particularly in Australia, younger investors did not necessarily see it as the best path.

“In particular, the low interest rate environment and impressive growth in house prices of the past 15 years is unlikely to be repeated in the next 15,” he said. “I also think there is some evidence that Gen Z may be happier to rent property or lease assets such as cars, and to adopt subscription-led lifestyles.”

Impact investing is a rising trend around the world, with more young entrepreneurs and activist investors proactively campaigning for change in the older companies they are invested in. Millennials are taking note of Gen X examples of entrepreneurs trying to force change. In 2022,  Australian billionaire tech mogul and major AGL shareholder, Mike Cannon-Brookes tried to buy the company so he could shut down its coal operations and turn it into a renewable energy giant. He described his takeover bid as “the world’s biggest decarbonisation project”.


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