Sydney’s Cow and Moon named world’s best gelato makers

Phoebe Tilelli

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go to the source.

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/food-news/sydneys-cow-and-moon-named-worlds-best-gelato-makers-20140908-3f2c0.html

World's best gelato ... Cow and the Moon in Enmore.

Punters may line up around the block for a taste of Gelato Messina, but another Australian gelateria has been hailed for producing the world’s best.

Sydney’s Cow and the Moon trumped ice-cream artisans from all over the world on Sunday to take out the Gelato World Tour title in Rimini, Italy.

The family-run gelato and coffee bar, based in Enmore in Sydney’s inner-west, won for their mouth-watering almond affogato flavour, a re-creation of the classic affogato.

Cow and Moon gelato Enmore Sydney

Gelato at the Cow and Moon

It combines caramelised almonds sourced from Italy with single origin coffee on a Madagascan vanilla base.

Owners Wendy and John Crowl held a special night at their gelato bar for regular patrons to help decide which blend of coffee to use.

When asked about his winning combination, John explained: “it’s about trying to understand the flavour, working on the salt, sweet and sour. You have to marry the flavours so that they blend well together.”

John and Sam Cowl with their winning affogato flavoured gelato.

John and Sam Cowl with their winning gelato. Photo: Twitter/@GelatoWorldTour

After placing second in the Oceania category last year, Cow and the Moon went on to beat 23 other finalists from around the world in a combination of technical judging and public votes. Two other Australian teams competed, Gelato Messina and Frangipani Gelato.

Second and third places went to two Italian teams. Francesco Mastroianni of Il Cantagalli was ranked No. 2 and Alessandro Lancierini of Gelateria Fiore, No. 3.

Cronulla’s Diana Kontoprias from Frangipani Gelato received a special award for her twist on the pavlova. Her gelato interpretation featured a meringue-flavoured base, passionfruit puree and meringue pieces folded throughout.

Donato Toce and Simone Panetta represented Gelato Messina, which has stores in both Sydney and Melbourne, with their flavour Cremino. A salted caramel gelato with house made gianduia fudge, fresh meringue and crushed amaretti biscuits folded throughout. It won them first place in the Oceania round.

Held by SIGEP and Carpigiani Gelato University, the Gelato World Tour Oceania round was hosted in Melbourne in October. The top three artisans were chosen out of 16 Australian and New Zealand competitors to travel to the finals in Italy. There the competitors faced scrutiny from the technical jury, a media jury, plus public tastings.

With AAP

 

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Watch Lady Gaga Join Adam Lambert Onstage in Homage to the Queen

Are you a Queen fan? Watch this surprise performance of Lady Gaga during the Queen + Adam Lambert show on 27th August 2014 at the Allphones Arena…

“All we hear is…”

Read the news here or click on the link below to go to the full site.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/idol-worship/watch-lady-gaga-join-adam-728642

Adam Lambert MSG 2014 P

Lady Gaga joined Adam Lambert and Queen, the band that inspired her stage name, for a rocking rendition of the classic hit, “Another One Bites The Dust,” onstage in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday.

She joined the group decked out in a giant afro wig. Following her surprise appearance, the singer tweeted, “I just played with Queen I’m the happiest girl alive,” then Instagrammed several pictures of herself along with guitarist Brian May and Lambert.

Gaga also revealed on social media that May and Lambert had been to her artRAVE ball. “I’m so PROUD of Adam Lambert singing with them,” she wrote. “Made me cry during Dope when I saw them all sitting there. … I thought about Freddie.”

Owing the ultimate homage to “Tonight I felt alive in a way I have not before,” she continued. “I returned to the Radio GaGa mothership to pay homage to my leaders. It was emotional and wild.”

Watch a video of the performance below:

North-west growth announcement: the details

Aug. 1, 2014, 1:17 p.m.

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go to the full site.

http://www.hillsnews.com.au/story/2458026/north-west-growth-announcement-the-details/?cs=1454

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Minister for Planning Pru Goward has announced the NSW Government will partner with The Hills Shire Council and the community to create three new vibrant centres for homes and jobs along the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link, as part of a major urban renewal program.

The NSW Government will undertake detailed planning, investigations and consultation for three precincts around the new Bella Vista, Kellyville and Showground railway stations, now The Hills Shire Council has nominated them as Urban Activation Precincts.

Here is the information provided by the state government for each of the three activation areas:

Bella Vista station urban activation precinct

Why was the area around Bella Vista station selected as an urban activation precinct?

• The $8.3 billion North West Rail Link is Australia’s largest infrastructure project. It will make Sydney’s north-west easier to get to and from, and the areas around the new stations more attractive for people to live and work.

• Over the next 25 years, at least 36,000 homes and 47,000 jobs will be created in Sydney’s north-west to cater for an extra 100,000 people expected to be living there. As the area around the new Bella Vista Station will be more accessible, it has been identified as an area that can assist in accommodating some of this growth.

• In 2013, the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy was prepared in close collaboration with The Hills Shire and Blacktown City Councils to guide development around each new station over the next 25 years. The Strategy identifies the future vision, character and potential growth for lands surrounding each of the eight new stations.

• In October 2013, The Hills Shire Council voted unanimously to nominate the area around the Bella Vista Station as an Urban Activation Precinct as a means to implement the Corridor Strategy and investigate the potential land uses within the precinct in more detail.

What is an urban activation precinct?

• Urban Activation Precincts feature a new coordinated approach to development and infrastructure delivery to provide more homes and jobs in places with access to infrastructure, transport, services and employment.

• Communities benefit through greater housing choice, upgraded infrastructure, increased amenities and services, as well as new and improved public spaces. Council will be able to access up to $5 million in local infrastructure funding for Bella Vista Station Urban Activation Precinct and fast-track infrastructure delivery to support new development.

Where is the Bella Vista station precinct?

• The precinct includes the area within a roughly 800 metre radius of Bella Vista Station. The boundary reflects a 10-minute walking trip to the station, and has taken into account surrounding roads, natural elements and the existing character of the area.

• The precinct is bounded by Memorial Avenue in the north, Old Windsor Road, Glenwood Park Drive and Meurants Lane to the west, Prestige Avenue to the south and Westwood Way, Edgewater Drive and Fairway drive to the east.

• The Northwest Private Hospital, part of the Norwest Business Park, Bella Vista Farm, Valentine Sports Park and Elizabeth MacArthur Creek are within the precinct.

What is proposed in the Bella Vista station precinct?

• The North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy included a Structure Plan for the Bella Vista Station precinct that identified the potential for approximately 4,400 additional homes and 10,500 new jobs within the precinct by 2036.

• Development in the precinct will bring more jobs and better services to the area as well as more housing choice.

• The precinct will have shops, cafes and restaurants. There will be new office buildings and the existing Bella Vista Business Park will be expanded.

• The Bella Vista Farm will be protected as a heritage area.

• New buildings will be well designed to integrate with the surrounding area and the precinct will have high quality streetscapes and parks to provide vibrant spaces for community interaction.

• Opportunities for new community facilities will be identified in consultation with the community and the Hills Shire Council. These could include new walkways, cycleways, playgrounds, a multi-purpose community centre and public art.

• New development will provide jobs close to home for local residents, space to enable social interaction and enhance lifestyle opportunities for the whole community.

• A 3D visualisation video will also be prepared to show what the future character of the precinct may look like.

What will happen next?

• Over the next 9-12 months, we will work closely with local residents, UrbanGrowth NSW, Transport for NSW and other government agencies and local businesses to undertake detailed planning for the precinct to ensure growth is properly planned.

• Specialist consultants will be engaged to carry out detailed studies into:

− urban design

− traffic and transport including transport infrastructure requirements

− the local environment

− open space

− community facilities

− economic feasibility

• A precinct proposal will then be prepared to confirm the vision for the precinct and will include detailed land use maps showing changes to zoning, new public spaces, pedestrian and cycle links, building heights, built form and an infrastructure schedule.

• The proposal will then be placed on public exhibition and the community will be invited to attend information sessions and provide feedback.

• Community feedback will be carefully considered to refine the proposal where needed, before the Minister for Planning makes a decision on the precinct rezoning.

What consultation with the community has been undertaken?

• The community was consulted on the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy, and a structure plan for Bella Vista Station, during a public exhibition in March-April 2013.

• The department also recently conducted a telephone survey to gain an early understanding of the types of activities and facilities the community would like to see within the precinct, and how the community would like to be consulted throughout the process. This survey told us that:

o educational opportunities, access to services and jobs, and good public transport are important issues to consider for the future of the local area, and

o car parking, parks, public open space, cafes, restaurants, shops, community facilities and cycling links are some of the amenities that residents would like to see around the station.

Will there be more opportunities for the community to get involved?

• We would like to hear your views about the future of the area.

• The local community is now being invited to further help shape the precinct by completing an online survey at http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/bella-vista-station

• Local communities will also have direct decision-making powers on the local infrastructure projects that will be delivered.

• This will include asking the community how council should spend up to $5 million available under the Urban Activation Precinct program for additional local infrastructure to benefit the precinct.

• Other opportunities to get involved will be advertised in the local newspaper, a regular precinct specific newsletter and on the department’s web page. They will include a future public exhibition of the proposed plans for the precinct, community information sessions and providing feedback online.

Where can I find more information?

• To stay informed about the precinct and the opportunities to have a say, register for the mailing list by emailing urbanactivation@planning.nsw.gov.au with “Bella Vista” in the subject line.

• For further information, contact the Department of Planning & Environment’s Information Centre on 1300 305 695.

Kellyville station urban action precinct

Why was the area around Kellyville station selected selected as an urban activation precinct?

• The $8.3 billion North West Rail Linkis Australia’s largest infrastructure project. It will make Sydney’s north-west easier to get to and from, and the areas around the new stations more attractive for people to live and work.

• Over the next 25 years, at least 36,000 homes and 47,000 jobs will be created in Sydney’s north-west to cater for an extra 100,000 people expected to be living there. As the area around the new Kellyville Station will be more accessible, it has been identified as an area that can assist in accommodating some of this growth.

• In 2013, the was prepared in close collaboration with The Hills North West Rail Link Corridor StrategyShire and Blacktown City Councils to guide development around each new station over the next 25 years. The Strategy identifies the future vision, character and potential growth for lands surrounding each of the eight new stations.

• In October 2013, the Council voted unanimously to nominate the area around the Kellyville Station as an Urban Activation Precinct, as a means to implement the Corridor Strategy and investigate the potential land uses within the precinct in more detail.

What is an urban activation precinct?

• Urban Activation Precincts feature a new coordinated approach to development and infrastructure delivery to provide more homes and jobs in places with access to infrastructure, transport, services and employment.

• Communities benefit through greater housing choice, upgraded infrastructure, increased amenities and services, as well as new and improved public spaces.

• Council will be able to access up to $5 million in local infrastructure funding for Kellyville Station Urban Activation Precinct and fast-track infrastructure delivery to support new development.

Where is the Kellyville station precinct?

• The precinct includes the area within a roughly 800 metre radius of Kellyville Station. The boundary reflects a 10 minute walking trip to the station and has taken into account surrounding roads, natural elements and the existing character of the area.

• The precinct includes the area around the new Kellyville Station, which is one of eight new stations being built as part of the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link.

• The precinct is bounded by Strangers Creek riparian corridor and Windsor Road to the east, Memorial Avenue to the south, Stanhope Parkway, Rothbury Terrace, Salford Street, Tilbury Avenue, Hayle Terrace, and Perfection Avenue to the west and Sanctuary Drive to the north.

• Kellyville Village Centre, Caddies Creek Sports Complex and the Outlook Nature Reserve are some of the facilities and services within the precinct.

What is proposed in the Kellyville station precinct?

• The North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy included a Structure Plan for the Kellyville Station precinct that identified the potential for approximately 4,400 new homes and 800 more jobs within the precinct by 2036.

• The proposes a variety of uses and building types to create a vibrant, active Kellyville Structure Plancentre around the new station with greater choice for people with different housing needs.

• New development will be concentrated close to the new station to benefit from its direct station access and associated uses.

• The precinct will have high quality streetscapes and parks to provide vibrant spaces for communities.

• Green spaces and riparian corridors within the precinct will be protected as ecological and drainage corridors, as well as providing significant pedestrian and cycle links between Rouse Hill and Bella Vista/Norwest.

• Opportunities for new community facilities will be identified in consultation with the community and Council. These could include new walkways, cycleways, playgrounds, a multi-purpose community centre and public art.

• A 3D visualisation video will also be prepared to show what the future character of the precinct may look like.

Will the entire precinct need to change?

• A significant part of the precinct will also remain unchanged to protect the existing low density character of the wider Kellyville area.

• The planning process will ensure that new buildings are well designed to integrate with the surrounding area. Sophisticated computer modelling will also be undertaken to ensure individual buildings will be designed to maintain appropriate levels of sunlight to homes and open spaces.

What will happen next

• Over the coming 9-12 months, we will work closely with local residents, UrbanGrowth NSW, Transport for NSW and other government agencies and local businesses to undertake detailed planning for the precinct to ensure growth is properly planned.

• Specialist consultants will be engaged to carry out detailed studies into:

− urban design

− traffic and transport including transport infrastructure requirements

− the local environment

− open space

− community facilities

− economic feasibility

• A precinct proposal will then be prepared to confirm the vision for the precinct and will include detailed land use maps showing changes to zoning, new public spaces, pedestrian and cycle links, building heights, built form and an infrastructure schedule.

• The proposal will then be placed on public exhibition and the community will be invited to attend information sessions and provide feedback.

• The department will carefully consider community feedback to refine the proposal where needed, before the Minister for Planning makes a decision on the precinct rezoning.

What consultation with the community has been undertaken?

• The community was consulted on the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy, and a structure plan for Kellyville Station, during a public exhibition in March-April 2013.

• The department also recently conducted a telephone survey to gain an early understanding of the types of activities and facilities the community would like to see within the precinct, and how the community would like to be consulted throughout the process. This survey told us that:

* educational opportunities, access to services and jobs, and good public transport are important issues to consider for the future of the local area, and

* car parking, parks, public open space, cafes, restaurants, shops, community facilities and cycling links are some of the amenities that residents would like to see around the station.

Will there be more opportunities for the community to get involved?

• We want to hear your views about the future of the area.

• The local community is invited to further help shape the precinct by completing an online survey at http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/kellyville-station

• Local communities will also have direct decision-making powers on the local infrastructure projects that will be delivered.

• This will include asking the community how Council should spend up to $5 million available under the Urban Activation Precinct program for additional local infrastructure to benefit the precinct.

• Other opportunities to get involved will be advertised in the local newspaper, a regular precinct specific newsletter and on the department’s web page. They will include a future public exhibition of the proposed plans for the precinct, community information sessions and providing feedback online.

Where can I find more information?

• To stay informed about the precinct and opportunities to have a say, register for the mailing list by emailing urbanactivation@planning.nsw.gov.au with “Kellyville” in the subject line.

• For further information, contact the Department of Planning & Environment’s Information Centre on 1300 305 695.

Showground station urban activation precinct

 Showground station, street level. Image courtesy of Transport NSW.

Showground station, street level. Image courtesy of Transport NSW.

Why was the area around Showground station selected as an urban activation precinct?

• The $8.3 billion North West Rail Link is Australia’s largest infrastructure project. It will make Sydney’s north west easier to get to and from, and the areas around the new stations more attractive for people to live and work.

• Over the next 25 years, at least 36,000 homes and 47,000 jobs will be created in Sydney’s north-west to cater for an extra 100,000 people expected to be living there. As the area around the new Showground Station will be more accessible, it has been identified as an area that can assist in accommodating some of this growth.

• In 2013, the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy was prepared in close collaboration with the Hills Shire Council to guide development around each new station over the next 25 years. The Strategy identifies the future vision, character and potential growth for lands surrounding each of the eight new stations.

• In October 2013, Council voted unanimously to nominate the area around the Showground Station as an Urban Activation Precinct, as a means to implement the Corridor Strategy and investigate the potential land uses within the precinct in more detail.

What is an urban activation precinct?

• Urban Activation Precincts feature a coordinated approach to development and infrastructure delivery to provide more homes and jobs in places with access to infrastructure, transport, services and employment.

• Communities benefit through greater housing choice, upgraded infrastructure, increased amenities and services, as well as new and improved public spaces. Council will be able to access up to $5 million in local infrastructure funding for the Showground Station Urban Activation Precinct and fast track infrastructure delivery to support new development.

Where is the Showground station precinct?

• The precinct includes the area within a roughly 800 metre radius of Showground Station. The boundary reflects a 10-minute walking trip to the station, and has taken into account surrounding roads, natural elements and the existing character of the area.

• The precinct extends to Showground Road and slightly beyond to the north, Windsor Road to the west and Fishburn Crescent to the south east.

• Castle Hill Showground, Castle Hill Industrial Area and Cockayne Reserve are some of the facilities and services within the precinct.

What is proposed for the Showground station precinct?

• The North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy included a Structure Plan for the Showground Station precinct that identified the potential for approximately 3,600 new homes and 7,700 more jobs within the precinct by 2036.

• New development will create a vibrant centre around the station with greater choice for people with different housing needs. There will be more jobs close to home for local residents, including shops, cafes, restaurants and new office buildings, as well as high quality streetscapes and parks to provide vibrant spaces for the community.

• Castle Hill Showground will be upgraded and remain an essential recreational space for community celebration.

• Opportunities for new community facilities will be identified and discussed with the community, such as new walkways, cycleways, playgrounds, a multi-purpose community centre and public art.

• New buildings will be well designed to integrate with the surrounding area and a significant part of the precinct will remain unchanged to protect the existing low density character of the wider Castle Hill area.

• A 3D visualisation video will also be prepared to show what the future character of the precinct may look like.

What will happen next

• Over the next 9-12 months, we will work closely with local residents, UrbanGrowth NSW, Transport for NSW and other government agencies and local businesses to undertake detailed planning for the precinct to ensure growth is properly planned.

• Specialist consultants will be engaged to carry out detailed studies into:

− urban design

− traffic and transport including transport infrastructure requirements

− the local environment

− open space

− community facilities

− economic feasibility

• A precinct proposal will then be prepared to confirm the vision for the precinct and will include detailed land use maps showing changes to zoning, new public spaces, pedestrian and cycle links, building heights, built form and an infrastructure schedule.

• The proposal will then be placed on public exhibition and the community will be invited to attend information sessions and provide feedback.

• Community feedback will be carefully considered to refine the proposal where needed, before the Minister for Planning makes a decision on the precinct rezoning.

What consultation with the community has been undertaken?

• The community was consulted on the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy, and a structure plan for Showground Station, during a public exhibition in March-April 2013.

• The department also recently undertook a telephone survey to gain an early understanding of the types of activities and facilities the community would like to see within the precinct, and how the community would like to be consulted throughout the process. This survey told us:

o educational opportunities, access to services and jobs, and good public transport are important issues to consider for the future of the local area, and

o car parking, parks, public open space, cafes, restaurants, shops, community facilities and cycling links are some of the amenities that residents would like to see around the station.

Will there be more opportunities for the community to get involved?

• We want to hear your views about the future of the area.

• The local community is invited to further help shape the precinct by completing an online survey at http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/showground-station

• Local communities will also have direct decision-making powers on the local infrastructure projects that will be delivered.

• This will include asking the community how Council should spend up to $5 million available under the Urban Activation Precinct program for additional local infrastructure to benefit the precinct.

• Other opportunities to get involved will be advertised in the local newspaper, a regular precinct specific newsletter and on the department’s web page. They will include a future public exhibition of the proposed plans for the precinct, community information sessions and providing feedback online.

Where can I find more information?

• To stay informed about the precinct and opportunities to have a say, register for the mailing list by emailing urbanactivation@planning.nsw.gov.au with “Showground” in the subject line.

• For further information, contact the department’s Information Centre on 1300 305 695.

Australian regulators watch as soaring mortgages drive up prices

July 28, 2014

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go the full site.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/australian-regulators-watch-as-soaring-mortgages-drive-up-prices-20140728-zxiln.html#ixzz38pYv61HL

Household debt is at a 25-year high, but regulators say risky loans haven't increased significantly.

Household debt is at a 25-year high, but regulators say risky loans haven’t increased significantly.

Central banks from Scandinavia to the UK to New Zealand are sounding the alarm about soaring mortgage debt and trying to curb risky lending. Here in Australia, where borrowing is surging, regulators are just watching.

Australian household debt is at a 25-year high, according to statistics bureau figures, and a government inquiry this month found housing to be a significant source of risk to the financial system. The average mortgage is at least four times household income in almost 80 per cent of the country, research by Digital Finance Analytics shows.

While the UK, Denmark and New Zealand introduce measures including loan limits, caps on interest-only mortgages and repayment tests, the Reserve Bank and the country’s banking regulator are holding their fire, saying risky loans haven’t increased significantly. The central bank also has said the price gains so far are spurring needed construction, easing housing shortages in some areas.

Household debt is at a 25-year high, but regulators say risky loans haven't increased significantly.
Household debt is at a 25-year high, but regulators say risky loans haven’t increased significantly. Photo: Virginia Star

“If we think there is a need for higher construction, which we do, an environment of declining prices is probably not conducive to that outcome,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said in a speech in Hobart earlier this month. “Some pick-up in housing prices as a result of lower interest rates was to be expected.”

 

Overvalued Housing 

Australia has the third-most overvalued housing market on a price-to-income basis, after Belgium and Canada, according to the International Monetary Fund. The average home price in the nation’s eight major cities rose 16 per cent as of June 30 from a May 2012 trough, the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index showed.

In Sydney, where price growth has been strongest, home values soared 15 per cent over the past 12 months. That compares with a 5.4 per cent increase in New York City in April from a year earlier and a 26 per cent jump in London prices in June quarter from a year ago.

“There’s definitely room for caps on lending,” said Martin North, principal at researcher Digital Finance Analytics. “Global house price indices are all showing Australia is close to the top, and the RBA has been too myopic in adjusting to what’s been going on in the housing market.”

Residential Construction

Our regulators are hesitant to impose nation-wide rules as only some markets have seen strong price growth, said Kieran Davies, chief economist at Barclays in Sydney.

Home values in cities including Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra rose less than 3 per cent over the year to June 30, and house prices in areas outside the major cities gained less than 4 per cent in the 12 months to May, according to RP Data.

The central bank has reduced its benchmark interest rate to a record-low 2.5 per cent to aid a recovery in non-mining industries, including residential construction, as the resources boom slows.

The interest rate cuts and subsequent home price gains have helped building approvals climb 14 per cent in May from a year earlier, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Necessary Evil

“The RBA’s probably got at the back of its mind that we’re only in the early stages of the adjustment in the mining sector,” Davies said. “Mining investment still has a long way to fall, and also the job losses to flow from that. So to some extent, the house price growth is a necessary evil.”

The central bank in its quarterly monetary policy update called declining resources investment a “significant headwind,” for the economy.

As prices climb, the value of new mortgages also rose 16 per cent in May from a year ago, and overall housing credit increased 6 per cent in the quarter ended March 31 from 12 months earlier, statistics bureau data show. The average new home loan grew 6.7 per cent to $433,960 in June from a year ago, according to broker Australian Finance Group, which processes about $4 billion in home loans every month.

The increase in new mortgages, while significant, doesn’t appear “imprudent,” Stevens said in his speech in Hobart. With total credit growth only slightly above the increase in incomes, “it’s hard to mount the soap box to complain about that pace,” he said.

Low Rates

Spurring the rise in loans are the lowest mortgage rates in almost five years, after the RBA cut the cash rate by 2.25 percentage points since late 2011. The average rate on variable mortgages, which about 85 per cent of Australians borrowers are on, is 5.95 per cent, the lowest since September 2009.

Fixed rates are also on their way down. The Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac last week cut their five-year fixed rates to 4.99 per cent, a record low for CBA, the least in 20 years for NAB, and a five-year low for Westpac. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. reduced its five-year fixed rate by 30 basis points to 5.49 per cent.

Rising Debt

Stevens this month urged investors in Sydney to be cautious, after loans to buy rental properties in New South Wales surged 30 per cent to a record $5.2 billion in May from a year ago, doubling from February 2013, according to statistics bureau data. He also warned that loans to investors covering more than 80 per cent of a property’s value have been climbing.

Australians owed almost 1.8 times their 2013 pretax disposable incomes, higher than Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, the statistics bureau said in a report last month. Household debt was equivalent to $79,000 per person at the end of 2013, and has risen at almost double the pace of assets over the past 25 years, it said.

Government Inquiry

Since 1997, when Australia held its last major financial system inquiry, household debt has almost doubled as a proportion of income, with more than 90 per cent of that due to housing, the government inquiry found. Mortgages account for two-thirds of banks’ loan books, from 47 per cent in 1997, it said.

“A large enough disruption to the housing market could have significant implications for household balance sheets, financial stability, economic growth, and the speed of recovery in household spending and broader economic activity following a shock,” the inquiry’s report said.

New Zealand’s central bank last year required loans for more than 80 per cent of a property’s value to account for less than 10 per cent of a bank’s new lending. In response, home sales fell 11 per cent between October and March.

Global Measures

The Bank of England last month proposed capping mortgages of 4.5 times a borrower’s income at no more than 15 per cent of a lender’s new home loans, and required banks to reject those who fail a new repayment test. Governor Mark Carney in May called surging home prices the No. 1 risk to the economy, and Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe this month warned low borrowing costs hide the real extent of Britons’ mortgage burden.

Denmark’s central bank is pushing to require interest-only loans to be no more than 60 per cent of a property’s value, from 80 per cent. In Sweden, lenders are in talks to require borrowers to cut mortgage debt to less than 70 per cent of home values, and have capped borrowing at five times household income.

‘More Stretched’

Across Australia, the average mortgage is at least four times pretax annual income in more than 2200 postal codes out of a total 2800, according to Digital Finance Analytics. Loan- to-income ratios are spread between 2.5 times and 8 times, compared with 0 and 6 times in the UK, the data show.

“So the loan-to-income ratio in Australia is more stretched than in the UK,” DFA’s North said.

The RBA, in response to an e-mailed request for comment, referred to speeches and papers by Head of Financial Stability Luci Ellis.

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, which oversees banks, in May issued draft guidelines urging lenders to conduct mortgage book stress tests, ensure brokers’ compensation doesn’t encourage risky lending and ascertain borrowers can repay loans, especially when rates rise.

“APRA is seeing increasing evidence of lending with higher risk characteristics and it does not want this trend to continue,” the regulator’s former chairman, John Laker, said in a statement then.

Requests to large lenders’ boards for explanations on how they’re monitoring risk have already led to more prudent standards, APRA Chairman Wayne Byres told a parliamentary hearing on July 18. Andrew McCutcheon, a spokesman for APRA, declined to comment further.

Shifting Stance

While regulators haven’t yet introduced firm lending controls, their resistance to such measures has softened. The RBA’s Ellis in October 2012 said she didn’t see a need for “elaborate” rules, and “a culture of cooperation, dialog and mutual respect” is more important than formal arrangements. In contrast, Stevens said after his speech in Hobart that the RBA is “quite happy” for limits on lending and capital requirements on banks to be imposed where they make sense.

The RBA and APRA have acknowledged potential benefits of loan limits “but at this stage they don’t believe that this type of policy action is necessary,” said David Ellis, a Sydney-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. “If the housing market was out of control and if loan growth, particularly investor credit, grew exponentially then it’d be introduced.”

Burgernomics: Aussie dollar is just right, says the Big Mac index

Business reporter

July 28, 2014

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go to the full site.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/burgernomics-aussie-dollar-is-just-right-says-the-big-mac-index-20140728-zxjzi.html#ixzz38onmGgt8

Food for thought: The Big Mac index was created in 1986 to make foreign exchange rates more digestible.

Food for thought: The Big Mac index was created in 1986 to make foreign exchange rates more digestible. Photo: Joe Armao

 

Exporters may be bemoaning the ‘stubbornly high’ Australian dollar, but according to the Big Mac Index, its valuation is spot on.

That’s right, you heard correctly, burgernomics is a serious business, particularly in determining whether currencies are at their “correct” level.

The price of a Big Mac in America was $US4.80 in July. In Australia it was $US4.81 at market exchange rates, meaning that the Aussie was overvalued by 0.4 per cent, according to The Economist’s raw Big Mac Index.

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Photo: McDonald’s; Thomson Reuters; IMF

 

It is the third time in the past 14 years that the Australian dollar has been valued at the so-called correct level. The other times were in 2013 and 2009 before the local unit began its meteoric rise.

The Aussie remained well above 90 US cents in past weeks, fetching about 94 cents in early trade on Monday. The Reserve Bank has been reluctant to talk down the currency for much of this year, despite its strong jawboning of the dollar in December when it fetched an average of 89.78 US cents.

But the rate of inflation is such that it is making it difficult for the RBA to convincingly suggest it will take action to lower the currency. The consumer price index rose by 0.5 per cent for the second quarter of this year to take the annual headline rate to 3 per cent, which is at the top end of the RBA’s target band.

The Economist newspaper invented the Big Mac Index in 1986 in an effort to make exchange rate theory more digestible.

It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity – a technique used to the measure the relative vale of different currencies. In an ideal world, exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in The Economist’s case, a burger) in any two countries.

Before 2009 the Aussie had been heavily undervalued, according to the Big Mac Index. In early 2001 a Big Mac cost $US1.52 at market exchange rates, undervaluing the Aussie at 40.3 per cent.

It reached its record high in July 2011, when that same burger cost $US4.94, meaning the currency was then overvalued by 21.6 per cent.

Despite being the subject of at least 20 academic studies, the index has attracted criticism. Much of the argument against the measure has been that average burger prices in poor countries are expected to be cheaper than richer ones because labour costs are lower.

The Economist acknowledges that the relationship between prices and GDP per person may be a better guide to the fair value of a currency, which is why it also includes that measure in the Big Mac Index.

“The difference between the price … for each country, given its income per person and its actual price, gives a supersized measure of currency under- and over-valuation,” the newspaper says.

 

Roll up, roll up! The circus is at the Showground (in Castle Hill)

The fun starts today, 25th July!

 

On air: Lennon Bros Circus has a group of daring aerialists and a flying trapeze troupe. Picture: Anna WarrOn air: Lennon Bros Circus has a group of daring aerialists and a flying trapeze troupe. Picture: Anna Warr

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go to the full site:

http://www.hillsnews.com.au/story/2439142/roll-up-roll-up-the-circus-is-at-the-showground/?cs=1454

Australia’s largest animal circus, Lennon Bros, has set up camp at the Castle Hill Showground.

Shows start Friday, July 25, and will continue until Sunday, August 10.

Included in the stunning new show are the performing dogs and a troupe of performing artists from Chile and Boston.

They will join a crew of Australian artists, as well as lions, monkeys, llamas, camels, miniature donkeys, horses and, of course, clowns.

The Lennon Bros circus family is now in its seventh generation and has 120 years of experience under the Big Top.

The family-owned and operated circus specialises in offering something to suit all ages.

A circus representative said she hoped to see many locals turn out during their Liverpool stay.

“It would be a shame for the children to miss it,” she said.

“The animals and their relationships with the trainers and the incredible things that the human body is capable of are a great learning experience for children of all ages.”

Shows will be held at from Wednesday to Sunday at various times.

Tickets range from $15-$30 for children and $25-$40 for adults.

Tickets are also available from the on-site box office one hour before each show.

Bookings: 0408 536 666 or Lennon Bros Circus.

 

 

Fixed interest rates too good to pass up, say experts

By Su-Lin Tan

July 25, 2014 – 7:38AM

You may read the article here or click on the link below to go to the full site.
http://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/fixed-interest-rates-too-good-to-pass-up-say-experts-20140725-zwnbg.html#ixzz38RFcQSzC

Heading north: Experts are tipping interest rates to rise next year.Heading north: Experts are tipping interest rates to rise next year. Photo: Frances Mocnik

Home loan customers should take advantage of low fixed interest rates and lock in now, experts say.

The Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac on Wednesday cut their longer-term ­interest rates to below 5 per cent.

ANZ was the only one of the big four banks not to lower its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.99 per cent this week.
ANZ was the only one of the big four banks not to lower its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.99 per cent this week. Photo: Supplied

CBA was the first to lower its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.99 per cent. NAB and Westpac followed suit.

“Competition in this market has finally bred benefits for consumers; 4.99 per cent on a five-year home loan is very sharp. It is an excellent deal,” said Alex Parsons, chief executive of interest rate research company RateCity.

“Will rates keep coming down? No. Non-banks have had below 5 per cent for a while. Now banks have joined in.”

Interest rate advisers all agree conditions are ideal for a switch to fixed rates.

“Our monthly Reserve Bank surveys say the interest rate is due to rise in the next year. It is likely that the interest rate will drop before rising again to normal levels, but at the moment this is a good rate,” Finder.com.au spokeswoman Michelle Hutchison said.

“Historically, cash rates have been around 5 per cent and interest rates another 2 per cent higher. So we are now near the bottom of the cycle.”

Rates may drop before they rise, but borrowers are better off locking in the rate now rather than speculating.

“Even with a possible rate reduction you still get comfort from hedging your bets against the possibility of rates ­eventually going up,” 1300 Home Loan managing director John Kolenda said.

AMP Capital’s chief economist Shane Oliver, agreed, saying economic indicators showed borrowers needed to take advantage of the low rates.

“Fixed rates are normally higher. Average inflation tells me the RBA will not stay at the current rate,” he said.

Rate rise likely in nine months

Dr Oliver predicted a rate rise was likely to be about nine months away, around the June quarter next year.

“The banks are offering this deal because they can. Costs of borrowing have dropped and are consistent with Australian bond yields falling.”

A combination of economic factors including improvements in the global capital market with lower spreads have resulted in the cheaper cost of money.

“Last year some mortgage providers were already doing 5 per cent. So to avoid losing market share, the big banks have joined in,” Dr Oliver said.

He cautioned the low rate deals may not last because banks would have only a limited amount of money at low rates.

But Mr Kolenda said borrowers must be sure they are switching for the right reasons, such as certainty of repayment and peace of mind rather than as a speculative play on where rates are going to move.

“Many committed to fixed rates just before the global financial crisis and watched the rate drop to a low of 3 per cent,” he said.

Fixed rates are also not ideal for ­people on high salaries.

“If you lock it in now, and want to repay chunks of the loan, you may have break costs. Also, are you upgrading your loans, or having another child?” Canstar research manager Mitchell Watson said. He recommended splitting loans between variable and fixed rates to “get best of both worlds”.

Interest rate adviser Mozo is more conservative, saying consumers must watch the rates for the next few weeks.

“We may not be at the bottom yet,” director Kirsty Lamont said. “This is the start of what will be more pressure on fixed rates. Other lenders will match if not undercut the rates.”