The news is grim when it comes to Australia’s economic outlook. Picture: iStock
The news is grim when it comes to Australia’s economic outlook. Picture: iStock

Dire warning of Australia in ‘crisis mode’

AUSTRALIA'S property market enjoyed a golden run for years on end - but according to one Aussie CEO, those days are now gone for good.

That's according to tech entrepreneur Matt Barrie, from freelancing marketplace Freelancer, who told news.com.au the country's economy had now reached "crisis mode".

He said the combination of our weakened housing market coupled with global market trends meant we were entering a "new realm" of economic misery.

And he believes the impact could be even worse than the effect of the global financial crisis, which brought certain countries such as Spain and Ireland to their knees.

"The banking royal commission has been the catalyst that pulled the rug out of residential mortgages," Mr Barrie said.

"Now applications are being knocked back tenfold, banks are becoming withdrawn and the easy credit that was available is gone.

"I don't think lending will ever go back the way it was before, and it will change the housing landscape quite dramatically."

He said a crackdown on Chinese buyers had also affected the housing market, and China's trade war with the US was also affecting the economy.

Founder and CEO of Freelancer.com Matt Barrie says our housing market may never recover. Picture: News Corp Australia
Founder and CEO of Freelancer.com Matt Barrie says our housing market may never recover. Picture: News Corp Australia

"For Australia, being the most dependent mid to high-income nation in the world on China in terms of exports, the impact has been quite significant," he said.

"It's also my belief China and the US will enter a free-trade agreement shortly, and if they do there will be a permanent impact on Australia.

"We've entered a new realm here."

He said wage growth and construction were both "anaemic" in Australia at the moment, and the property market had gone into "free fall" as a result.

"Chinese buyers are gone, lending has gone and it will never go back to the way it was," he said.

"We're in crisis mode. Whoever wins the federal election will inherit an economy that is not in good shape at all."

Mr Barrie said the looming crisis heading for Australia "may even be worse" than the impact of the GFC on other nations due to our burst housing bubble, scrutiny on the banks and the extreme simplicity of our economy.

"In the last decade our economy has basically been (based on) shipping iron ore and coal, building houses and bringing people in (from overseas) to buy those houses, and that's it," he said, noting our economic diversity was worse than developing countries such as Oman and Vietnam.

He said the key to turning things around was building up new and developing industries such as the technology industry and making innovation a national priority.

Tech entrepreneur Matt Barrie says the Australian economy is entering ‘crisis mode’.
Tech entrepreneur Matt Barrie says the Australian economy is entering ‘crisis mode’.

But according to Chris Richardson, director of Deloitte Access Economics, it's not time to hit the panic button just yet.

He told news.com.au that "true booms" and "true crashes" were few and far between and it was sensible to take economic warnings with a "grain of salt".

However, he said it was obvious 2019 and 2020 would be more painful for Australia and the wider world than 2017 and 2018 had been.

He said China was experiencing a slowdown after taking on "too much debt too fast" and trade tensions had added an "extra layer" to the global economic outlook, but while global growth was looking "weaker and bleaker", it was not an all-out disaster.

"Here at home, house price falls have accelerated from late October onwards, and although the banks are being more careful with loans, that's … not actually as important now because it's not so much that banks aren't supplying loans, it's that punters are not demanding them," he said.

"They've seen price falls and it's making them more cautious now, and the speed of shopping is dropping a bit."

He said, ironically, bad news in China usually meant a temporary boost for Australia.

"When China slows down more than they are happy with they throw stimulus at it, which means more construction and more demand for things like coal and iron ore, which sees prices go up," he said.

"At the moment one thing that's helping Australia is China's slowdown."

 

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au

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